Fort Worth YMCA prepares for new round of construction on the eastside
When the Eastside YMCA closed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, many residents and leaders feared it would never reopen.
While other Fort Worth YMCA locations reopened as life returned to normal, the eastside location at 1500 Sandy Lane remained closed after the February 2021 ice storm and vandalism in April 2021 caused major damage.
However, Community leaders like Lillie Biggins, a longtime eastside resident and member of the YMCA’s board, urged the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth to prioritize the Eastside YMCA. The organization’s newly hired CEO, Mike Brown, resolved to reopen the eastside location.
“It would be easy for me to walk in and sell the land for $5 million or $6 million and invest it somewhere else right?” Brown said. “The hard work is bringing the community together and making sure that the Y has a presence in all of our communities in the Fort Worth region.”
Now, the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth is starting work on about $16 million worth of improvements to the eastside location. The YMCA plans to reopen the center in fall 2024.
About $5.9 million of that funding will come from the federal government; $2.4 million came to the project through U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey D-Fort Worth, and $3.5 million through COVID relief funds awarded to Tarrant County.
A timeline of the Eastside YMCA
1937: The first community branch opens as the Poly YMCA with the support of the East Fort Worth Lions Club.
1952: The name is changed to the Eastside YMCA and merges with Glenwood YMCA.
1968: The Eastside YMCA moves to its current location on 16 acres
1974 – 1983: Several improvements are made to the property including a pool, tennis courts and a fitness center.
2020: The Eastside YMCA closes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic
The funding will allow the YMCA to expand the existing center, add more opportunities for indoor and outdoor recreation, create a dedicated space for teens and establish a childcare center on the property.
The center, once reopened, also will have an outdoor swimming pool.
“The new center will help the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth achieve its vision of strengthening families by allowing young and old alike to nurture physical, social, and emotional connections,” Rep. Veasey said in a statement.
The Eastside YMCA has been a part of the eastside since 1937 but moved to its current site in 1968. Today, the eastside location serves a 75% minority neighborhood and about 19% of residents live below the poverty line.
Tarrant County provided $6 million to The YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth and about $3.5 million will go to the eastside renovation. The rest will go to a new location in northwest Fort Worth.
Brown expects about $3.5 million in additional funding from federal and private sources to come to the project soon, allowing renovations to move next to include the construction of a 7,000-square-foot gymnasium/impact center.
The new location will offer a variety of services tailored to the needs of east Fort Worth, including childcare, sports, job training, community resources, events and a demonstration kitchen, Brown said.
Tobi Jackson, eastside Fort Worth ISD trustee and executive director of Fort Worth Sparc, said the Eastside YMCA is one of her favorite projects of all time because it will serve such a wide range of residents.
“This is a miracle. It really was resuscitated,” Jackson said. “I didn’t know that was going to come back, and I’m thrilled that it did.”
The Eastside YMCA project is one of several improvements headed to the eastside. The city of Fort Worth is investing $25.7 million into the Stop Six Hub MLK Community and aquatic centers. Meanwhile, the city is also working on a new transportation plan focused on the eastside. Brown expects the Eastside YMCA to be considered as a factor in those plans.
“You see communities thriving, where they have grocery stores, shopping, schools and hospitals, but you have communities that don’t have those resources,” Brown said. “If we all don’t step in to provide those resources, how will our community thrive?”
Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.