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Westport Y to break ground for new home Feb. 5

Published 7:58 am, Tuesday, January 15, 2013
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The Westport Weston Family Y, culminating years of planning, will break ground Feb. 5 on a new center at its Mahackeno campus in northwest Westport, Y officials announced Monday.

Y officials last month were issued a zoning permit for the project from town officials.

"Our campaign to fund and construct a modern, sustainable new home for the Family Y has been years long and at times imperiled," Rob Reeves, the Y's chief executive officer, said in the statement announcing the grounbreaking date. "But thanks to the steadfast support of our members, the tireless efforts of the volunteer leaders who guide us and the selfless contributions from hundreds of donors from throughout our community and beyond, we are ready to truly `Build What Matters.' "

The new Mahackeno center will include an aquatic center with a 10-lane, 25-yard lap pool, an adjacent family-teaching-therapeutic pool and an aquatic climbing wall. The Mahackeno complex will also feature a health and wellness center, a multi-purpose gymnasium, three group-fitness studios; a child watch-kids adventure gym area and five locker rooms.

Y officials are targeting a November 2014 opening date for the Mahackeno center. In the meantime, the Y's operations will stay at its current home downtown at 59 Post Road East.

The Y introduced plans for a Mahackeno center more than a decade ago. The project has since endured an arduous and acrimonious public review process. The Planning and Zoning Commission approved building a Mahackeno Y in 2008, but the Y and town then faced four lawsuits filed against the project. The last of the appeals against the Mahackeno center was rejected in January 2011 by a Superior Court judge in Stamford.

Much of the opposition to the Mahackeno project has diminished since the 2011 Superior Court decision, with many neighbors now appearing to accept that a new Y center will be built.

"I wish the Y good luck as they embark upon the project," Melissa Kane, a Representative Town Meeting member who represents the district encompassing the Mahackeno property, said in an email Monday. "I hope and expect that they will stick to their promises and will be good neighbors both during and after construction."

The Y will host an question-and-awnser session about the Mahackeno project at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Y's current downtown headquarters, with a "special invitation" extended to almost 100 property owners near the Mahackeno property, according to Y officials.

pschott@bcnnew.com; 203-255-4561, ext. 118; twitter.com/paulschott