GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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January 7, 2014

Divided Fuller is fine with Y

Cape Ann YMCA officials, bidding to acquire the Fuller School site, said Monday their move was aimed at letting the city know their interest in the property and building.

But with Mayor Carolyn Kirk urging a subdividing of the property — with the city retaining some of the Fuller site for its own mixed use — Y leaders said they’ve been open to sharing Fuller from the get-go since submitting their expression of interest in late December.

Their application stated the intended use was to redevelop the property with the possibility of a new public safety building, a city hall annex and potential commercial space.

“We (offered to buy) in a very general way so we could keep all (our) options open,” Jack Meany, Chief Executive Officer of the North Shore YMCA, told the Times Monday. He confirmed that Y officials are open to the subdivision plan rather than the YMCA buying the property in its entirety.

“We’re open to whatever serves all constituents the best,” he said. “We’ve always been open to a number of ways to go.”

Meany said Y officials understand that the city would have to request other proposals, as well, but said it’s a good fit for creating a new YMCA facility.

“It comes down to a place that’s convenient for all,” Meany said, noting the lack of parking at the current YMCA on 71 Middle St.

The building space is also important, Meany said, adding that a building layout needs to be able to change with the times.

“If you needed to change the footprint of the interior of the building, you could do that with (this space),” he said. That is something that is “next to impossible” at the current YMCA, Meany said.

He added that the current facility is still on track for a “measured renovation” involving a new reception area and other changes, which would mean more room for program and health and wellness space.

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