By this time next year, kids will be playing ball and families will be having picnics at the new Lake Highlands YMCA at Stults Road and Greenville Avenue.


The process, which began nearly a decade ago, saw the Y buy the land in 1993, and reached another milestone when the organization had raised enough money to begin construction in November.


“There can’t be too many positive, healthy alternatives for kids, youths and their families to spend time together,” says Elliott Stephenson, who chairs the board of managers for the building’s construction.


The new building will be about 11,000 square feet larger than the YMCA’s current facility at 11221 Lochwood Blvd.  That will mean more room for childcare, classes and outreach activities.  The new Y also will feature workout and locker rooms, a playground and two sports fields.  Also planned are indoor family and lap pools that will open to an outdoor deck.


The Y met its goal of raising $630,000 in local donations by June 30 to begin construction on the new building, executive director Nora Tomlin says.  Staff and volunteers are continuing to seek corporate gifts to help complete the $2.5-million project.


The Y will seek additional monetary and in-kind donations to buy furnishing and amenities. Organizers hope to put mushroom and frog slides in the family pool, for example.


"A number of our successful donors have been homeowners’ associations in our community who have pooled their resources together to make large contributions," Tomlin says.


The effort also has benefited from contributions by individuals, community organizations and trusts for which parts of the facility will be named.  In some cases, donations have been made to honor the memories of loved ones, Tomlin says.


Among the groups that have contributed are homeowners associations in Merriman Park, Oakhurst and Town Creek, who donated $12,500 or more. The Exchange Club and more than a dozen families also contributed that amount.


"We have a number of different naming opportunities still available," she said.  "It’s a chance to be a part of something that only happens once in a lifetime."


The staff will continue operating the pool and providing programs at the existing building, about six miles away.  But the old site’s future hasn’t been decided, Tomlin said.


Coincidentally, plans are underway to develop another new Y just south of White Rock Lake in the old Gaston Bazaar building at Gaston and Garland roads, said Val England, executive director of the East Dallas YMCA.