Schumer calls Esper to urge DOD to fund $9M YMCA community center in downtown Watertown

WASHINGTON, DC  — Following his push in June, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer last Friday made a personal call to Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, doubling down on his support for the City of Watertown’s YMCA community center project in downtown Watertown. Specifically, the senator called for the Department of Defense (DoD) to approve Jefferson County and the YMCA’s application for $9 million in funding from the Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot (DCIP) grant program which will contribute to the conversion of a currently vacant building in the city’s downtown into the YMCA’s new planned community center. Schumer explained that the project would provide a year-round community space for Fort Drum’s military families, in addition to bolstering downtown Watertown.

“The YMCA plus Watertown plus Fort Drum is a winning formula for a healthier and more vibrant community. That is why I personally called Defense Secretary Esper to urge him to approve the grant for $9 million to complete this vital project. As New York recovers from the effects of the COVID pandemic, this project and the YMCA will be integral to rebuilding a sense of community and boosting the economy,” said Senator Schumer. “A new YMCA community center in Watertown will improve the quality of life Fort Drum’s families and North Country residents while energizing the regional economy.”

Schumer noted on the call that the new community center would align with the DCIP program’s mission of improving the quality of life for military families and enhancing infrastructure in communities where military bases are located. The center would be especially integral to maintaining the health and community of Watertown and Fort Drum during Upstate New York’s harsh winters.

The project is a top priority for the City of Watertown, has the support of local officials, including the Jefferson County legislature and top economic development officials, and has the complete backing of Fort Drum. The completed community center would consist of a six-lane lap pool, a separate full-size recreational pool, three exercise rooms, an arts/multipurpose room, two indoor tennis courts and a community kitchen.