|Dear friends and community partners,
With Thanksgiving upon us, there is much to be thankful for as a community. While we are incredibly appreciative of the strong and vibrant Jewish life in Greater New Haven exemplified by our many synagogues, day schools, camps and agencies that inspire Jewish learning, care for the vulnerable and provide dignity to our elders, what we are most grateful for as we come upon the one-year anniversary of the fire that devastated our community building is that we suffered no injuries or loss of life.
Since that day, our community has been working hard to determine our future and our return to our re-imagined community building. Inspired by the suggestions of our community members, who participated in various focus groups, online surveys, the town hall, the “shark tank” process and various communications, we have developed programming concepts, facility enhancements and business plans that will serve the Greater New Haven community and are already underway.
Over the past four months since the building process began, crews and committees have worked at breakneck speed, shooting for our return as quickly and safely as possible. As projects were completed and work progressed, we felt optimistic that our soft opening would happen in December and our grand re-opening would follow in January. While we are proud to say we remain close to schedule, several events have caused us to slightly shift our timeline.
Several weeks ago, a terrible wind and rain storm ravaged our area. In addition to widespread power outages and fallen trees and limbs, the building experienced significant water infiltration along the eastern wall , which damaged the newly installed insulation and drywall in the new spin room, group exercise studio and yoga room.
Unfortunately, this problem has caused a delay in the project plan. While crews are working long days in multiple areas to propel us forward, some things that have hampered the timeline will actually end up improving our facility. As we move forward with the project, we are taking the opportunity to make ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) upgrades. The future we are building is for all members of our community and these accessibility improvements to showers, toilet facilities and lockers in the rebuilt locker rooms will further ensure that our community is inclusive and welcoming of all.
Putting the locker rooms back together as they were before the fire would have been a fairly quick and easy project. But re-designing the locker bays requires more time. That, coupled with long lead times on lockers due to limited production in the country, has led to delays.
It is also important to note that due to fireproofing that must be conducted near the pool and racquetball areas, those areas will be closed on Friday, Dec. 1, and Saturday, Dec. 2. While we are happy to have been able to operate key areas of the building since the summer, including the pool, racquetball courts, Yeladim Early Learning Center and the Afterschool program, we apologize for some inconvenience as we work to improve the building while it is partially occupied.
So with the knowledge of some of the causes for delay, we are optimistic that the following areas will open on the following schedule with a grand re-opening to follow:
New Yoga and Stretching Rooms will serve as temporary changing spaces
- Week of 11/27 Jewish Federation, Foundation and JCC Administrative staff return
- Week of 12/4 Jewish Federation and JCC Program and Support Departments staff return, refreshed library re-opens
- Week of 12/11 Group Exercise and Gymnasium floors installed -- the gym floors take 3-4 weeks to complete and we expect them to be online by the first week in January
- Week of 12/18 Fitness and Spinning equipment installed in new spaces. Research Drive location will close
- Week of 12/25 Fitness, Spinning & Group Exercise spaces open to members
- Week of 1/2 Kindergarten and Afterschool Classes return to their refreshed classrooms
- Locker Rooms & Spas Locker rooms and spas took the brunt of the damage from the fire and are being largely rebuilt. The items in these locations, such as lockers and the new whirlpools, have some of the longest lead times. As we get better defined dates, we will update the community.
Café dreams are taking shape with beautiful finishes, quality Willoughby’s coffee and delicious delicacies of the finest quality by kosher vendors. We expect the café finishes will be completed on or about the first week of January with setup and training to follow and the café opening a few weeks later. Watch for more information about the café, which will be the destination for delicious coffee, food and community conversation.
When you come to the annual Craft and Gift Fair from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3, visible changes will already be underway. We hope you will share in our excitement and confidence that when the new and revitalized community building fully reopens, it will begin a new chapter in the story of our community. New programming will continue to come online and offer something for everyone.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact us with questions, comments or suggestions and please, join us!
Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving,