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Demolition of the old YMCA building started Tuesday on Pacific Boulevard in Albany.

David Patton, Democrat-Herald

Demolition on the old Mid-Willamette Family YMCA building at the corner of Pacific Boulevard and 34th Avenue started Tuesday, and the project should take about 30 days, said Jim Asleson, executive director of the organization.

“It’s kind of like saying goodbye to an old friend,” Asleson said.

But it was time to say farewell and bring in the backhoes.

The YMCA operated out of the site from 1950 to 2015, and the former International Harvester building was already 16 years old when the YMCA moved in.

Needless to say, it was showing its age. Plus, the facility was too small.

“We ran out of capacity to serve a growing Albany population,” Asleson said.

A new YMCA building opened at 3201 Pacific Blvd. SW in December 2015. In less than two years, the YMCA has surged from 2,900 members to nearly 7,000 members. Three-fourths of memberships are family memberships.

Other programs, such as summer day camps, also have increased participation.

“It’s exciting to see what the future will hold. We’re trying to do our best to make Albany a better place to live for our families,” Asleson said.

And that includes future development at the site of the old YMCA.

The organization is doing research about bringing retail establishments such as a grocery, restaurants, child care or other services to the property to benefit nearby residents.

“There is a lack of services on the south side of town and a lot of folks would be interested in making fewer trips across Albany,” Asleson said.

The YMCA itself wouldn’t provide the services, but would lease to others, he added.

The research, which started last October, should be complete later this month. It also includes planning for future YMCA needs.

On Tuesday, before demolition started, Linn County Regional SWAT team members did training exercises at the old YMCA.

Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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