City Councilor Lydia Edwards said this week that the sale of the YMCA in the Navy Yard could result in a new YMCA that focuses on easing the child care crisis in Charlestown.
In a surprise move last week, the YMCA announced it was selling the Constitution Inn in the Navy Yard, and holding a lease on the wellness and fitness center for three or four years. In the meantime, they said they would be looking in Charlestown for another location to build a new, full-service YMCA. However, the focus of that facility was not disclosed.
Councilor Edwards said there have been conversations with the YMCA about instituting child care and after school opportunities in any new YMCA. Those services that would be on a sliding scale and focus on families that are in the middle of the spectrum – meaning those that don’t qualify for low-income services and aren’t wealthy enough to be able to enroll in higher-priced options downtown.
“My hope and the conversation that is happening is about them helping us with our childcare needs,” she said. “I expect them to be good partners with the Kennedy Center and Turn It Around and others. For those that are on a wait list or don’t qualify for other services, they have no childcare…We are in a childcare crisis in Charlestown. There is a baby boom here; I see it. I’m aware of it. If they’re able to fill that need, then I’m all for it.”
Edwards shared that she grew up at the YMCA, attending after school and being a teen mentor where she grew up on the upper peninsula in Michigan. From that experience, she said she knows firsthand how well the YMCA handles childcare.
“They do childcare excellently,” she said. “Housing and supportive housing they’ve done well, but at a different location here. They are one of the best providers for childcare and after-school programming. The Kennedy Center does an amazing job, and they service some of our most vulnerable families. But there are a lot of families that are on a wait list or make too much money, but aren’t necessarily rich. We have a baby boom and we know we need to expand our schools, but we also to expand our childcare and Pre-K services as well.”
The YMCA property in the Navy Yard is being marketed with a broker, and has been postulated for any numbers of uses – from hospital visitors to a full-service hotel to student housing.