The Edmond Sun

February 3, 2014

Visitors stream into Mitch Park Y

Officials celebrate opening day

Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Possibly the Edmond Y’s eldest member, 93-year-old Betty Windsor entered the new Mitch Park facility Monday with a stream of local dignitaries to celebrate the grand opening of the recreation and aquatic center.

“I can’t wait to bring my weights,” Windsor said.

She is looking for a dance class to enroll in and hopes she will be able to find one.

“I sure wish they would start a country and western line-dancing class,” Windsor said. “It’s a good way to stay in shape and you don’t need a partner.”

Windsor will be joined by 2,400 new Edmond families who have registered with the YMCA in the past three months in anticipation of the 103,133-square-foot facility’s opening in Mitch Park. That influx of new enrollees brings total Edmond YMCA membership to 5,500 units. A unit is a single or family membership.

Mayor Charles Lamb said it best when he welcomed the visitors to the Y and said, “This is an extremely large day for Edmond.”

Making a reference to the original working name of the Mitch Park Y, the Edmond Recreation and Aquatic Center, Lamb said the beginning of the culmination of three city entities started in 1992 when the city purchased 273 acres on what was then the edge of town for $675,000.

In 1996 a group of Edmondites formed a committee called “Tomorrow’s Edmond” and from that came a vision of the city, schools and UCO sharing services.

A 3/4-cent sales tax passed by the city in 2000 started discussions among the city, the Edmond Public School District and the YMCA. A 2012 bond issue passed for the Edmond Public Schools made the dream that began in 1974 a reality.

“We started talking about this in 1974 or 1975,” said former school board member Charles Woodham. “I can’t tell you how happy I am. It is all for the kids.”

While the YMCA part of the project will operate like other Y’s across the state, the Edmond Public Schools’ swim team now has a permanent home in the facility with an Olympic-sized pool and enough risers and bleacher seating to host regional and state level swim meets.

Edmond Superintendent of Schools David Goin thanked the three entities initiating the undertaking and for never giving up on a partnership.

Saying the pool facilities meet the needs of the students, Goin told the audience, “The only enthusiasm even greater than today was last week when the swimmers stepped into the facility for the first time.”

Goin’s sentiments were echoed by members of the swim team on hand for the ribbon cutting.

The swim team members were all sharing one word Monday — “excitement” — as they shared their feelings about the new Olympic-sized pool.

“Our first swim practice was Wednesday,” said senior Mitchell Ford, “and it was exciting. I am really excited.”

Senior Garrett Duncan said, “It used to take us 20 minutes to get to the pool, now it takes me 2 minutes. I am going to be saving a lot on gas.”

Duncan said he also liked the fact that the swim team would have a lot more lanes to swim.

“I am excited to see what it is going to do for the swim program,” said junior Ally Robertson. “We will be able to welcome anyone into swimming now and not have to turn some away because there wasn’t enough room. I think the pool will be a huge draw to grow our team. I am especially excited because I will be here another year to use it.”

Ford Price, executive director and chairman of the board of the Greater Oklahoma City YMCA, said he had to say to the seven directors before him and to Mike Grady, a visionary of the Y, “It is worth the wait. The Mitch Park Y will be the Y’s flagship for many years to come.”

Mike Grady is president/CEO of YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City.

Ken Moore, president of the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce, said, “This is a fantastic jewel for Edmond. This will have a long-term impact on the city. I think the people who come here for the first time will be blown away.”