Officials break ground for YMCA indoor pool

With the Donnie Williams Foundation, from left, Greg Johnson, Mark Granger, Kimberly Remer, Allen Brown and Kirk Kinnamon; with the Henson Foundation, Tom Trice, Vic Laws, Donna Atvater, Tom Evans and Tom Sherwell, all join in on Monday to break ground for the $2.3 million Donnie Williams Aquatics Center at the Richard A. Henson Family YMCA in Salisbury.Ground was broken for the YMCA’s new Donnie Williams Aquatic Center last week, with plans to replace the existing outdoor pool and build a new, $2.8 million, indoor complex.

When it opens this spring, it will be an indoor warm-water pool, Robbie Gill, CEO of the Richard A. Henson Family Y, told the Salisbury Independent this week.

Gill said it will allow the Y to “serve the community while providing a space for aquatic rehabilitation and recreational swimming.”

The 15,000-square-foot center was designed for children to learn to swim and for families to enjoy the water and play together, Gill said.

“Swimming and learning to swim is an important life skill every kid should have the opportunity to have.

“We have a program now with fourth graders in our schools, a component of the PE (physical education) curriculum. As far as swim lessons, the Y provides financial assistance. We don’t turn anybody away. There is no financial barrier. About 30 percent of people who come to the Y are on financial assistance,” Gill said.

Warm-water pools are ideal for teaching young children how to swim and for senior citizens who benefit from water recreation, Gill said.

The pool is being named for local businessman Donnie Williams, whose foundation donated $500,000. Williams died in 2012.

“There was a gift from him, but there were many other donors, including the Richard A. Henson Foundation, PRMC, the Wilgus family, Avery Hall, the Laws family.  We had over 200 donors,” Gill said.

He praised Williams for his love of the Salisbury community and for children.

“Mr.  Williams was a businessman, a successful businessman,” Gill said, relating a story Y board member Greg Johnson told at the groundbreaking ceremony.

He said Williams often talked about finding “a place with blue water,” so it is fitting that local children will enjoy the blue water in a new pool.

Williams left an estate to form a foundation to support children throughout Wicomico, Worcester and St. Mary’s counties, Gill said.

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day attended the groundbreaking, as did officials including state Delegate Mary Beth Carozza, former Delegate Norm Conway, Salisbury City Council President Jack Heath and Wicomico County Council President John Cannon.

“It’s just amazing to see so many community leaders come together and work for the benefit of the community, and, in this case, kids,” Gill said.


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