YMCA officials show off newest branch in Newton

Newton YMCA set to open soon

A new YMCA branch is set to open on No. 14 in Newton. On Friday, officials hosted a tour of the new community center.
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A new YMCA branch is set to open on No. 14 in Newton. On Friday, officials hosted a tour of the new community center.

It’s no coincidence that the YMCA about to open in Newton has a lot of windows.

Look to the east, and members can see the rolling farmland that is a cornerstone of Harvey County. Look to the north and west, and they’ll see the city of Newton.

But when Randy Carlgren looks at the Y that has taken shape on the campus of Newton Medical Center next to I-135, he sees something else.

“This is a game-changer,” said Carlgren, a Newton resident, moments after completing a walk-through on Friday. “This is an amazing facility for a town of 20,000.”

The $15 million building, which has nearly 75,000 square feet, offers so much that it could help draw people to live and work in Newton, he said.

The ninth full-service branch for the Greater Wichita YMCA, the Newton branch will open at 4:30 a.m. on Nov. 14. An open house will be held two days earlier.

Any YMCA member in Wichita can use the Newton branch once it opens, officials said.

“This is one of the nicest YMCAs in the country,” said Ronn McMahon, president and CEO of the Greater Wichita YMCA.

That’s not just because it’s brand new, he said. The branch has a number of features other YMCAs don’t.

Among them are Durasoft safety flooring in the KidZone drop-in nursery, so parents can feel more comfortable about their young children playing — and falling — while they are working out.

The Farha Family Center will feature interactive video games that will give kids a workout while they’re playing.

The Newton Y will also feature the largest whirlpool of any Y branch in the Wichita metro area; two full-length courts that can be used for basketball, volleyball and pickleball; 10 tons of free weights; and a “family locker room” with private changing quarters for tweens, members with special needs and parents with children.

Three program studios will include martial arts, gymnastics and tumbling classes among its offerings. An elevated walking and running track is large enough for 10 laps to equal a mile, and a large aquatics area features two sizable pools: a six-lane lap pool and a family recreation pool that includes a play structure with dumping water buckets and a mini-slide for smaller children.

“We’re really excited what that’s going to do for the Newton community,” McMahon said, his words sometimes drowned out by the sounds of power drills or hammers.

Plenty of work remains before the building will be ready to open, but McMahon said everything is on schedule.

The branch is located on the campus of Newton Medical Center, and officials said that was by design. YMCA officials hope the branch eventually earns accreditation to work with patients of the hospital needing physical therapy, said Shelly Conrady, a YMCA spokeswoman.

Carlgren has hopes, too. A YMCA this nice, he said, might help draw his son and daughter — who are now young adults — back home to Newton.

Gazing at the gleaming basketball courts during the tour, Carlgren smiled.

“He’d love this,” he said of his son.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger