Wilton Y reopens with ribbon cutting

WILTON — Celebrating its mission to bring myriad services to everyone in the region, the Wilton YMCA branch of the Riverbrook Regional Y held a ribbon cutting Saturday morning, as well as tours of its revamped facility.

“It seems like just yesterday we were touring the construction site,” said state Senator Will Haskell (D-26), who was among the officials in attendance.

The Y broke ground in February for the $15-million expansion project, following a fundraising campaign that began in 2015. It has net $6.7 million, closing in on its $7.5-million goal, with the balance financed through a loan from Fairfield County Bank.

“Our theme for our campaign was building new stories,” explained Christene Freedman, chief development officer, “because everybody who walks through the door has their own story of how the Y affected their life.”

“This is so much more than just a building,” she said.

Selectwoman Deb McFadden got teary sharing about the impact the Wilton Y has had on her and her family since they moved to town.

“All of our family has been very actively engaged with the Y,” she said, including her late daughter Melissa, who had both participated in programs and worked there. Her son Joey, now 20, she said, still attends but was there even when McFadden was pregnant with him and taking swim classes for expectant mothers.

“We all have different types of needs in the community, but the Y meets them all,” she said.

The day began with a large buffet breakfast in the new foyer, named for the late longtime Y supporter Al Nickel.

“I feel like it’s the perfect memorial for him,” said his wife Dana Nickel, who noted the welcome area was adjacent to the pool named in honor of the two children he lost — Mark and Melissa.

“He loved this place,” Nickel said. “He came here every single day forever.”

The hundreds of visitors who arrived throughout the day shared their appreciation for the revitalized facility, including Marie Kennedy of Wilton.

“It’s so different,” she said, noting the extent of the improvement, especially with the new fitness room and its many new machines.

“I’ve been hoping for this,” she said. “This will make it more appealing to come and do your workout.”

Work throughout the building is not yet complete, with a new wellness center and a new performance studio among the updates still underway. The mammoth-size fitness room, however, is open for business, along with updated locker rooms, offices, a new Kids Club babysitting room, and a new pool area bubble cover for wintertime.

“I think it’s beautiful,” said Linda Simpson, manager of IT and members services, who has worked there for 15 years.

“It’s a much-needed improvement and it’s exciting,” she said.

Robert McDowell, CEO, said the work unveiled is “generational” as it relates to the community, beginning with the land on which it stands first being donated by the Kiwanis Club of Wilton in 1956.

“This is the culmination of the community effort to continue the Y movement in this community,” he said.

“It’s a true, true testament to the community and it’s willingness to share their hearts,” he said.