Gill Presents to QA's County Commission

Robbie Gill, CEO of the Chesapeake YMCA, updates the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners on plans for the Y in Centreville. He said they will actually dig in the dirt by next spring.

CENTREVILLE — Robbie Gill, CEO of YMCA of the Chesapeake, came before the Queen Anne’s County Commission on Sept. 8. He made an update on where the Centreville Y is at both in planning and in finance.

The main thrust of Gill’s presentation was that he wanted to modify the shape of the pool to serve senior citizens trying to enter and exit the pool.

“There is a cost. We need another 1,000 square feet, you have got to add a bay. The pool gets bigger, the mechanical gets bigger. It is about an additional half a million dollars,” he said.

There will be both an outdoor and an indoor pool. The indoor pool will be an aquatic center with enough seating capacity for 170 people. One component that Gill brought up was making the pool 83-84 degrees F.

“This pool is built for teaching kids to swim, older adults involved in water based exercise and obviously the swim teams. In the shallow end, it will be three and half feet regardless,” said Gill.

“Once we got the Ratcliffe grant, the goal now is to just build the whole thing,” he said.

Commissioner James Moran asked, “So by spring, you are going to start moving dirt?”

“Fundraising isn’t easy right now in the middle of a pandemic. I can’t really meet with folks. We are are approaching $8 million, so we are getting there,” Gill said.

Earlier this year, the Y received a $5 million dollar matching grant from the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation based in Annapolis. The project also received an anonymous gift of $2.5 milliion.

If the Y could get the project the way it is drawn, they are looking at raising $13 million. A big expense for the project is site work.

“We need 10 feet to fill. That is a lot. It will be $2 million just to get the site correct,” Gill said

In the midst of all the numbers, Gill got philosophic.

“If it was easy, it would have been done a long time ago. While time is a challenge, what we are going to end up having and how it serves the community is substantially greater than what it would have been like right after Chesapeake College closed its pool,” Gill said. He has been at this project for 15 years.

Commissioner Stephen Wilson asked a tough question, “Say this pandemic goes on for another four or five years, will this project still be viable?”

Gill replied, “We have 11 facilities across the Eastern Shore. It’s part of that. As long as the collective is good, we are good. This Y should serve between 10,000 and 12,000 people. When you add the senior center to that, it will be one of the larger if not the largest.”

Some of the Y’s start out losing money, but the more established ones make up the difference, he said.

“What impacted us was being closed for 90 days. During COVID we saw a 30% decline in membership. Our operating budget is $15 million. It went down to $11 million.,” he said.

“You typically aren’t building $13 million facilities in the middle of a pandemic,” he added.

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