By Jarret Liotta

What began as a dream is becoming real.

Nearly 75 people on Saturday toured what will one day be the Bedford Family Center -- the new home of the Westport Weston Family Y on the 32-acre Mahackeno campus in northern section of town.

While the building is still far from finished, Erik Melingonis, superintendent with Turner Construction, was able to lead a tour through the areas of the structure that will house the pool, locker rooms and lobby.

If construction continues on schedule, Y officials hope to move from their longtime downtown home in late 2014, making way for the new Bedford Square complex of commercial and residential space.

"The last three weeks have been a big change," he said. "We're looking to be substantially completed by the summer," for phase one, encompassing 52,000 square feet of what long-range planners hope someday will be a 102,000-square-foot complex.

"Right now, we're around 70 workers," Melingonis said. "Over the last month it's ramped up from 40," with specialists focusing on electrical, plumbing, duct work and the exterior walls.

"Once a lot of these things are done, it ramps down, so we're in the peak of construction right now."

The tour of the site at the end of what is now known as Allen Raymond Lane -- a tribute to the town historian and Y philanthropist -- on the north side of the Mahackeno property, began with a look at a tall mock-up of a portion of the wall, which the builders use to test materials.

"It also gives architects and the owners a chance to decide on some features," Melingonis said. "A lot of things look good on paper, but then they don't look good in the field ... This will always be referred back to during construction."

On entering the structure itself, which is still without completed exterior walls or a finished roof, Paul Bernetsky, chief development officer for the Y, declared: "You people have just made history because you're the first ones to come inside the Bedford Family Center."

Other key contributors to the construction campaign were on hand for the visit, including Robin Tauck of Weston, who got to see the area that will eventually become the Robin Tauck Wellness Center.

"We've been working on it for 15 years," she said, "so I'm flabbergasted ... It's beautifully situated on this site. It'll definitely last 100 years."

Bill Strittmatter of Fairfield was also pleased to stand in the center of what will become the Strittmatter Family Aquatic Center.

"Both our kids went to the Y and swam," he said, touring with his wife Bonnie. "It's great. It's been a long time coming. A lot of people have worked hard getting it done."

"Right now we're pushing to get the building closed up," Melingonis said, otherwise many interior items can't be done. "We can't insulate. We can't sheetrock," he said, until the structure is made waterproof.

Steve Halstead, chairman of the Y's construction committee, commended the work by Turner do far. The contractor "has been remarkably professional and efficient in helping us achieve our shared goal," he said.