WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - The groundbreaking for the Bill Bartley YMCA branch's $14 million Project took place Tuesday.
Gary Baker, the architect for the new facility and a member of the YMCA board, said the project is more than three years in the making and designed to cater to the needs of those who live in the are.
Dozens came out to the festivities for the new 80,000 square foot facility including Bill Bartley's wife, Mrs. Joanne Bartley, who called it an emotional day.
"I've been here since the first brick went there, and it's close to my heart," said Bartley.
Noel Filer, the YMCA Mission Advancement Director, said Mrs. Bartley is special to them.
"Because her husband loved this place and put his life's work into making the YMCA as great as possible," said Filer. "So we feel we are on honoring so many of those people that have gone before us."
Filer said she knows Mr. Bartley is smiling from heaven.
"He would be very proud," said Bartley.
Dozens came out including Mayor Steven Santellana, members of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce and a community who is eager to help and see this building come to life.
"It just makes me feel truly overjoyed because it's just a statement of community support," said Filer. "That's what makes our community so special, people really rise up when there's something to rally around," said Filer.
Many Families came out to enjoy hot dogs and live music by the Rider High School Band. There was even a bounce house and an inflatable slide for the kids. Plus a performance by some YMCA gymnasts.
The facility will have a new indoor soccer field and gymnastics center. Plus an Early Childhood & Youth Development Center that will include a library to help expand after-school and summer reading programs for kids, to name a few.
Many parents said they cannot wait to see how these new options will help their kids grow.
"I want to enroll my kids in swim lessons and then my daughter in gymnastics, so I feel like it will be a great opportunity for them," said Mariah Malone.
"I feel like it's good for my kids because I didn't have that opportunity growing up."
Pam Michael said she plans on getting her granddaughter swimming lessons too. She herself takes classes at the YMCA and is excited to see how the upgrades will benefit her too.
"Hopefully we will get some better rooms, air-conditioning and better parking," said Michael.
Filer said they are just a little short of a million dollars to reach their phase one goal, but at the groundbreaking, some good news was delivered.
Four local banks are going to match the next $100,000 that is donated dollar-for-dollar.
The construction will start in May and the entire project is expected to be finished by fall of next year.