County Legislature Receives Update on YOU Project
Poughkeepsie, NY … The upcoming countywide youth center, the Youth Opportunity Union (YOU), continues to move forward with plans having undergone months of design, value-engineering and re-design by world-renowned, Poughkeepsie-based MASS Design Group and its associates. The Dutchess County Legislature was updated on this transformative project last week by the County Executive’s Office at the Public Works and Capital Projects Committee meeting with details regarding the YOU’s scope, amenities and estimated cost, as well as the County’s plan to raise funds for the critical project.
The YOU will be a multi-use facility that focuses on recreational, educational and healthy opportunities, both physical and mental, for young people. It will be the home of the county’s Path to Promise initiative that employs strategic ways to ensure all young people in Dutchess County have the assets they need — from cradle to career — to achieve their full potential as they grow into young adults.
“The YOU will provide a holistic approach that encompasses the entire spectrum of a child’s life; bringing together nutrition and wellness, family learning, and social interactions with neighbors and the community at large. This comprehensive focus will positively impact individual and collective community youth development,” said Dutchess County Executive William F.X. O’Neil.
The YOU will be built on the site of the former YMCA at 35 Montgomery Street in the City of Poughkeepsie, a parcel which the County purchased from the City in 2021. Among other features, the center is planned to include a competitive pool, a family pool, a gymnasium housing a basketball court and track, early learning/childcare center, fitness center, smart lab, community room, meeting rooms and café with teaching kitchen.
After a months-long review, the YOU is estimated to cost just under $70 million in total. In 2021, Dutchess County pledged $25 million toward the project, including approximately $5.5 million for demolition of the former YMCA building and site remediation – the County demolished the deteriorating and unsafe structure in 2022 – as well as $3 million toward design services for the YOU. In April, the County received formal support from Rep. Pat Ryan, who is recommending $3 million in federal funds for this critical project through the Congressionally Directed Spending program for FY 2024. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer demonstrated similar support for the project, including $10 million for the YOU amongst his requests to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
Construction timing and costs have been challenging as the construction industry continues to grapple with issues post COVID, including supply chain issues that impact project timelines and ultimately cost. Additionally, labor shortages and work volume have also increased construction costs dramatically in the last few years, with construction costs per square foot dramatically increasing compared to pre-pandemic prices.
A fundraising effort is currently in development, in partnership with the Dyson Foundation, to raise approximately $40-50 million for the remainder of the project, as the County cannot solicit donations on its own. The County expects to launch the fundraising drive with the goal of obtaining funding commitments – $10-$15 million in other government/public funding and $25-35 million in philanthropic contributions.
Alongside partners, such as the nationally acclaimed Harlem Children’s Zone, as well as others, including the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet, Dutchess County remains focused on a comprehensive and holistic approach to youth development and eliminating intergenerational poverty while concentrating on children, their families and the greater community. Programming and outreach – “YOU without Walls” – is already ongoing including partnerships with the City of Poughkeepsie Youth Flag Football League.
Community Matters 2 founder and CEO L’Quette Taylor, who serves as the Chair of the YOU Advisory Board, said, “From the beginning, the YOU has been an ambitious project, one that will change the lives of so many children throughout Dutchess County. Beginning the fundraising process brings this critical undertaking one step closer to becoming reality. We look forward continuing the YOU’s momentum and having others – from around the corner and around the country – join our campaign to bring to life a building and programming worthy of our kids.”
Dutchess County Government annually spends more than $70 million on youth services mandated by the state and federal governments, including significant investments in early education and early intervention. The County also invests nearly $6 million each year on youth development “discretionary services,” such as teen parent supports, education, employment and drug awareness programs, most of which are contracted through community agencies.
Additional information about the YOU project, including a timeline of progress made to date, is available at www.the-you.org.