Upper Saucon Township Community Park on Preston Lane will be the home of a brand new branch of the YMCA; a facility that is expected to cost up to $15 million to build and which backers believe will ultimately help improve the health and well-being of the communities it serves.
Township supervisors Monday unanimously approved a lease agreement for roughly eight acres of parkland for the construction of the Saucon Creek ‘Y,’ which it is estimated will take one to two years to complete. The area that the main building will occupy was formerly the site of a school bus depot, adjacent to the Southern Lehigh Public Library.
Before construction can begin, a fundraising feasibility study will be conducted by the YMCA. Upon its conclusion, a capital campaign that is estimated to last up to three years will become the primary engine powering the building’s transition from plan to reality. That puts the timeline for the facility’s opening in the 2026-2027 range.
Prior to settling on the Preston Lane site, YMCA representatives reportedly considered nearly 20 other locations during a comprehensive vetting process.
The Founders’ Committee for the Saucon Creek YMCA was commissioned on Jan. 27, 2016 by the Greater Valley YMCA Board of Directors to lead the process to assess the feasibility of building a new branch of the organization within the geographical area served by the Saucon Valley, Southern Lehigh and East Penn school districts.
In addition to its central location, another bonus for the Southern Lehigh community will be the relocation to the YMCA of Betty Lou’s Pantry, which now operates out of a church in Coopersburg. Betty Lou’s will have a permanent home in the new ‘Y,’ which it is hoped will improve access to critical supplies among food-insecure local families.
Among the other amenities the Saucon Creek YMCA will house will be an eight-lane indoor swimming pool.
Other amenities will include fitness/wellness areas, changing rooms, locker rooms, a childcare area, group exercise classrooms, meeting spaces, a high school regulation gym, an indoor track, a teen center, a front desk/lobby area and an outdoor playground.
Upper Saucon Township resident Tammy Clemens questioned Greater Valley YMCA President David Fagerstrom about both the size of the pool and how accessible it will be.
Fagerstrom said there will be equitable access to all the new resources the YMCA provides.
“We really need to create spaces in this YMCA where people can come together,” he said, adding that those kinds of spaces have been disappearing from community landscapes.
Clemens also asked about whether there will be discounted memberships for residents.
Fagerstrom said YMCA branches don’t offer discounts according to geography. Instead, they offer “Y scholarships,” which are subsidized memberships based on what individuals can afford to pay.
More information about the Greater Valley YMCA may be found on its website.