Oregon Senators Visit Ground Zero of the “Y”

Oregon state Sen. James Manning and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden take a look at progress on Eugene’s new and improved “Y”

 Monday afternoon, August 14, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and state Sen. James Manning toured the site of the new Y with YMCA CEO Bryan Steffen and communications director Beth Casper who led the senators on a tour of the new 75,000 square foot facility. 

Steffen points to large group exercise rooms with floor to ceiling windows, a splash pool for younger kids to swim in, elevators throughout the building and preschool classrooms large enough to host the 750 kids that rely on the Y for pre-k and afterschool programs.

Steffen says, “Today was especially remarkable because we know how competitive federal funding is and how busy these senators’ schedules are.”

Construction for the Y began June 2022 and has continued to progress with the help of $2 million in federal funding. The new Y is set out to be one of the most expensive Y’s in the country making it a whopping $44.3 million,which Steffens says highlights just how invested the community is in making this communal space. 

Wyden is proud to be part of the trio of elected officials, including former Rep. Peter Defazio and Sen. Jeff Merkley who helped in finding government funding for this project. “This does not happen by osmosis,” Wyden says. 

 In addition to being ADA accessible and having hospital grade seismic protection; it is also one of the largest Y’s in the country Steffen says this will double the amount of youth attendance and other programs such as diabetes and Live Strong cancer classes.  

“This will be the most significant leap the Y has taken since our inception in 1887,” Steffen says. 

As Manning and Steffen walk around what will be the new group exercise room, Manning says he is in awe over just how much his wife, Lawanda Manning, would have loved this. Lawanda Manning who died unexpectedly in 2021, was known for her service to the community and Oregon, and had been James Mannings chief of staff. 

 “I am just impressed by the vision everyone had in creating this,” Manning says. 

The new Y will be having its grand opening mid-December for all the public to enjoy. 

“I gather that you’ve been calling this a “hub” for the community. Well, I’d take it a step further,” Wyden says. “It’s going to be a magnet.”

Donations to the new Y can be made  online at Eugeneymca.org/new-y/support-campaign-new-yor. To become a member, find more information atEugeneymca.org/membership/join-y.

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