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MUSCATINE — With construction moving into the next phase at the Muscatine Community YMCA, executives hope to reopen part of the renovated facility before the end of the year.

Bret Olson, executive director, said the second phase of the $7 million project should wrap up this week, which includes a new entrance and larger lobby. Then, work will begin on an additional gymnasium and weight room.

"I'm really happy to see how it's coming along and excited for it to be done," Olson said. "It's been a lot of time and effort, but it's been fun. And I can at least see the finish line for this phase."

Construction began in June, according to Olson, who said the expansion was needed to fit the Y's growing number of members. The original facility was built to serve around 6,500 people, he said, and the addition of 25,000 square feet should better accommodate its now 9,000 members.

Previously, the Y had two entrances, but Olson said that made security difficult. By next month, members and visitors will use a single entrance, which faces Logan Street.

The second phase also includes new offices for Big Brothers Big Sisters and Special Olympics. Olson said around five YMCA employees use the offices, which will now be double the previous size.

"If you go to any other Y, you probably won't find hardly any of them having [Big Brothers Big Sisters or Special Olympics]," he said. "To have both is really rare and it's a great fit for us. If they were on their own, it'd be a struggle to pay rents and utilities ... now the money they raise can go to the work they do."

The Y also added another large conference room, for meetings, events and family programs. And because of the support and large donation from the Howe Family Trust, the room will be named the Howe Conference Center.

Because the old teen center was dated, Olson said, the Y needed a new space for middle and high school students. At the front of the building, the new teen center will feature ping pong tables, a television and games.

"Every day, we have something free for middle schoolers, whether they're members or not," he said. "That's why it's right by the front door. They can come in without having to check in. We want those middle schoolers to do something productive at the end of the day."

The former teen center has been converted into administrative offices. Nearby, there are new bathrooms, plus two family changing rooms, for parents of young children or families with seniors or people with disabilities.

The biggest "game-changer," according to Olson, is the addition of a kids adventure center. The indoor playground area includes slides, rock climbing walls and other features for early elementary and preschool students.

"In winter, people can bring their kids in here and you have the large windows, so you can always see where your kids are," he said.

As the Estes Construction crew finishes work on the second phase, construction will move to the gymnasium and weight room. The Y is adding a new gym, with an exercise studio, flat track and two basketball courts. And, it'll update its weight room, which is currently too small to meet user demand, according to Olson.

While the current track and weight room are being renovated, members will temporarily use the new gym space as a weight room, he said. Olson hopes to have the new weight room finished in April.

The total project, he said, should be completed by May.

The current phase of construction has been the most difficult, Olson said, because members have had to use a different parking area and entrance. But he is excited for people to see the upgrades for the first time, which will also include a larger parking lot with more handicap spaces.

As work progresses throughout the Muscatine Community Y, Olson said he is still most proud of the community's support throughout the project. He said the fundraising effort took about a year.

"We had more than 500 individuals or businesses contribute, so I think that's really impressive. And it was everywhere from $2 million to $5," he said.

Some of the main contributors, Olson said, include the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, HNI Corporation, Kent Corporation and the Howe Family Trust.

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