Celebrating a gift of $75,000 to the Wilmerding Community Center from Allegheny Petroleum Products Co. are CEO Jim Kudis and President Barb Kudis, state Rep. Brandon Markosek, Wilmerding Community Center board member Peter McGinty, Wilmerding Mayor Greg Jakub and state Sen. Jim Brewster. (Submitted photo courtesy Allegheny Petroleum Products Co.)
An effort to reopen the former YMCA in Wilmerding has gotten a big boost from a local business.
Allegheny Petroleum Products Co. has pledged $75,000 over three years to the new Wilmerding Community Center Inc. The gift was announced Friday.
Organizers are hoping the former YMCA will reopen this August --- on or about the one year anniversary of its closure.
Barb Kudis, president of Allegheny Petroleum, says the company hopes its gift spurs other donations. The 32-year-old company has been headquartered in Wilmerding for all but five years of its existence.
"We're a big supporter of the community," she says. "We have a lot of employees in the area, and the Wilmerding area has been a good partner of ours for many years."
"We know it was a big deal wihen the YMCA shut down," she says. "We saw the impact it had on the people in the community, and on the community in general."
Also announced on Friday was a matching $75,000 grant from the Allegheny County Community Infrastructure & Tourism Fund. State Sen. Jim Brewster joined state Rep. Brandon Markosek and Wilmerding Mayor Greg Jakub to announce the CITF grant.
(Photo via Loopnet.com)
The YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh announced in July 2018 the closure of YMCA branches in Wilmerding, Penn Hills and Moon Twp. as part of a bankruptcy reorganization. The Y also closed branches in Delmont and Pittsburgh's Market Square.
The Wilmerding Y's closing displaced many McKeesport-area members, who began using the facility after a YMCA fitness center on Evans Avenue in McKeesport closed in 2016; the former McKeesport YMCA on Sinclair Street was converted to low-income housing in 2010.
The building in Wilmerding is located on the former site of Wilmerding Junior High School and is owned by the borough, says Gary Nowading, one of the board members of the new non-profit group and a YMCA employee for 31 years.
The structure is about 40 years old, he says, and was renovated in 2006. County tax records value the 30,000-square-foot facility at $836,000, and it was briefly listed for sale last year at $1.6 million.
In part because of its heated, indoor swimming pool, the Wilmerding YMCA had members from throughout the Mon-Yough area, including McKeesport, Monroeville, North Versailles Twp. and White Oak.
Nowading says the Wilmerding Community Center will need to continue to be a regional asset in order to survive.
The community center has been designated as a tax-exempt non-profit by the Internal Revenue Service and is able to accept charitable gifts, he says. In addition, the community center board has recruited Peter McGinty, another former YMCA executive, to serve as the Wilmerding center's executive director for the first two years.
In addition to Nowading and McGinty, other board members include Jakub, Paul Heatherington, Kelly Maxwell, Linda Kirk, Steve Shurgot, Joe Lawrence and Johnny Mock.
Although the community center is hoping to eventually resume as many of the Y's former health and fitness programs as possible, including the "Silver Sneakers" program, Nowading says the new community center board will need to operate the Wilmerding facility at a lower cost than the Greater Pittsburgh Y was able to.
He says YMCA executives have shared details of the Wilmerding facility's budget and operating expenses, as well as mailing lists of former members.
Jim Kudis, founder and chief executive officer of Allegheny Petroleum, says his employees frequently used the Wilmerding YMCA, and several sat on the board of directors over the years.
"We're hoping this donation gets some publicity for the Wilmerding Community Center so that (the facility) can get back to the solid organization that it's been in the past," he says.
Jason Togyer is editor of The Tube City Almanac and volunteer executive director of Tube City Community Media Inc. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published May 14, 2019.