MONTGOMERY, W.Va. — Work is underway to retrofit the former WVU Tech Athletic complex into a a facility to serve the exercise needs of the Upper Kanawha Valley. Several groups both private and public have collaborated on the project to bring the YMCA to the region.

“We’ve got it for the next 25 years,” said Monty Warner, CEO of the Charleston YMCA which is overseeing the creation of the Montgomery facility. “We’re converting it from a college athletic facility to a full community recreation center.”

Already the pool and aquatic center are open and feature a unique venue with seating for spectators at swimming events. The old Tech basketball arena is also a unique facility according to Warner.

“It can seat 1,600 people so there’s no facility like that until you get to the Charleston Civic Center,” said Warner. “For this area, this is a place where you can have major events like volleyball tournaments, basketball tournaments, that sort of thing and seat a lot of people.”

The weight room and classrooms are also being painted and updated to meet the community needs as well. Warner is also in the process of building a staff for the facility.

“We’re hiring,” he said. “Anybody who’d like a job in this area can sign up on line. We’re hiring to ge the staff we need.”

The facility is operating now with a $275,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Warner says while that’s a tremendous boost, it didn’t come without commitment.

“ARC is not going to give any money unless the community is invested,” he explained. “They don’t give grants they give matching money. So we had to raise money locally before we could get that federal money in here. It was only possible because everybody pulled together along with a couple of private donors.”

More than $125,000 was raised from private donations and business and another $95,000 from public groups including the cities of Montgomery and Smithers along with the Fayette and Kanawha County Commissions. The donation’s helped draw down the ARC funding and make the YMCA of the Upper Kanawha Valley a reality.

“This is just something the community has needed for years and years,” said Warner. “We’re in position now to deliver that.”

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