Interest High for Lower Cape YMCA Facility

DENNIS – The YMCA Cape Cod has narrowed in on West Harwich as a possible location for a new Lower Cape facility.

Brad Crowell, the chairman of the YMCA’s Lower Cape Committee, updated Dennis Selectmen last week on a new site analysis and a community needs assessment, which included online surveys, focus groups and a community leaders’ forum.

“There is a yearning an interest on the part of the community to have something here,” Crowell said.

The site analysis considered three possible locations for a Lower Cape YMCA off Route 6: one in Dennis near Exit 9, and two spots in Harwich near Exit 10 or Exit 11.

The Exit 9 and Exit 10 locations are similar in terms of the number of people who had access to them.

“From the YMCA perspective the Exit 10 site was a little bit better,” Crowell said. “That is sort of where we are focusing now.”

Dennis is not often labeled as being part of the Lower Cape, but the YMCA project was started in the town.

It was the result of a failed initiative in Dennis in 2016 to try to include a community center with the plans for adding on to the senior center.

“The project had a lot of enthusiastic support conceptually, but a lack of interest in the town doing the community center part of it,” Crowell said.

Crowell, a Dennis resident, and Selectman John Terrio continued to discuss ideas for some type of community center and presented the idea to YMCA Cape Cod.

“We thought they had a combination of organization wherewithal, the right mission, and also the ability to potential raise funds for a [project] like this,” Crowell said.

Over the last few years organization officials have been working to figure out if the project makes sense.

“The Y is a very corporate organization and they tend to study things very thoroughly because they don’t like to make mistakes,” Crowell said. “That’s why we are here nearly three years since this project got started.”

The YMCA Lower Cape Initiative also includes the communities of Harwich, Brewster, Chatham, Orleans and Eastham.

Dennis was included because it is just far enough away from YMCA’s West Barnstable location.

Crowell said a location in West Harwich would still be very accessible by residents in Dennis.

The community needs assessment recruited 813 participants from the Lower Cape communities for an online survey to gauge interest.

Crowell said national YMCA officials thought getting 360 participants would be a struggle.

A full-scale market study and a capital capacity study will be conducted next to determine what a new facility should include, and if the local communities would be willing to pay for it.

YMCA Cape Cod is also working to develop a facility in Falmouth partnering with Falmouth Aquatics.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.
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