The city is gearing up for a new YMCA gym in Purser Family Park. The Armed Services YMCA is expected to serve more than 15,000 veterans and civilians, according to the project overview.
The new ASYMCA will have more than simple workout equipment. It will also offer post-outpatient soldier rehabilitation programs, military family counseling, family meet-ups, holistic wellness programs, and nutrition and cooking classes, the project overview stated.
“It’s the first of its kind,” said ASYMCA board member Cindy Davis.
Seton Medical Center Harker Heights CEO Matt Maxfield presented ASYMCA with a $2 million check at a May 23 dedication ceremony for the construction of the two-story 45,000 square-foot workout and rehabilitation facility.
The project has raised half of its $9.3 million development goal from 20 contributors, said ASYMCA board chairman Larry Linder. Board members are reaching out to foundations in hopes of another seven-figure contribution, and to local residents for other needed funds.
“Once we reach 80 percent of our goal, we’ll begin construction,” Linder said.
Board member Donna Connell said an agreement with Seton called for breaking ground within the next 1 1/2 years, but the project overview stated that building could start by December. The facility will take about a year to finish.
Along with offering soldier rehabilitation programs for lost limbs, severe burns, heart issues and other war injuries, the center will have a $1.5 million warm water therapy pool with a treadmill on the bottom, Davis said.
“Our (soldiers) who are fighting are coming back with really bad injuries,” Davis said. After they do their major rehab, they need to continue their own rehab. That’s what we’ll have…The (Killeen area) doesn’t have anything like this.”
ASYMCA started in 1966 in Killeen to provide programs and support for soldiers and their families, Connell said. The organization offers before- and after-school programs at 39 schools from Lampasas to Belton. Family-oriented YMCA facilities in Copperas Cove and Heights will stay open after the new facility is built.
The idea for the new complex crystallized in 2009, when the city gave the parkland to ASYMCA, said Tony Mino, executive director of ASYMCA Killeen.
“We saw the need,” said city councilman Pat Christ. “Our activity center can’t handle the population right now. This will give us a big, large community center, and it’ll be heavily used.”
“This is the first full-fledged ASYMCA in the country,” Connell said. The new facility will offer more features and services than the 15 other ASYMCAs in the U.S.
It could grow as well. “The facility is built for expansion,” Mino said. “It can go to the 50 to 55,000 square-foot range.”
While the ASYMCA hasn’t gotten a building permit, Linder said he is optimistic that partnering with the city will help the project move forward.