The East Dallas YMCA is more than halfway to its Dec. 31 goal of raising one half-million dollars for its new building, set for the Gaston Bazaar site at Gaston and Garland roads.


The deadline is important because long-time East Dallas resident Bob Chilton has agreed to match that amount if the Y could raise it by the end of the year.


“I’ve been around the 40 years the East Dallas YMCA has been in its current location, and now its my job to help build one for the next 40 years,” says Rex Aymond, the chairman of the steering committee. Aymond’s earliest memories of the Y include eating chili there after a six-man football game in 1961. “We have an opportunity to build a world-class facility.”


Organizers are optimistic the Y will raise the $200,000 needed to meet the challenge grant through major donations. But it will also launch a public campaign to raise an additional $400,000 to improve the facility even more.


Chilton grew up swimming in White Rock Lake and has fond memories of taking his children to the current Y.  His money will allow the Y to move from its current site and renovate the 36,000-square-foot flea market.


“We will be able to increase all of our resources because of the size of this facility,” executive director Val England says. “It’s just going to be a grand thing for the East Dallas community.”


Construction won’t begin for at least seven months due to existing lease obligations, but when it does, plans call for:


<bullit> More informational classes and more mentoring programs for junior-high and high school students.


<bullit> An upgraded adult fitness center , with 9,000 feet of space and outdoor swimming pool.


<bullit> If the money is available, England hopes the Y eventually will be able to add a gymnasium


“The East Dallas YMCA is just such an integral part of the community,” says Milo Segner, chairman of the Y’s board of management. “It’s well located near White Rock Lake and could be a key part of the spillway renovation.”


The existing facility at 6220 Worth St. will be sold.  The East Dallas YMCA has outgrown its current home, a historic two-story house purchased in the late 1950s.  Because of the building’s layout, not all of the space is usable.


“We’ll be tripling our size when we meet full capacity,” England said.