The Whitehall Community Park YMCA remains on track to open next fall, according to Whitehall Parks and Recreation Director Shannon Sorrell.

"We look forward to opening a vibrant community hub" for residents in fall 2019, Sorrell said Oct. 30.

Officials from Whitehall and the YMCA of Central Ohio gathered Oct. 29 at Whitehall Community Park, 402 N. Hamilton Road, for a ceremonial groundbreaking.

Sorrell said Oct. 30 that abatement and demolition at the existing activities building at Whitehall Community Park should begin in the next few weeks.

A majority of the footprint and exterior walls of the activities building will remain intact, Sorrell said, "but a lot of work will be done inside" to update infrastructure put in place in the 1960s.

Inefficient HVAC, lighting and plumbing systems will be replaced, Sorrell said.

Some demolition will be required to construct the addition to the existing building.

When completed, the $5.5 million project will add about 9,000 square feet to the activities building to create the 25,000-square-foot Whitehall Community Park YMCA.

"We are working to maximize all we can do within our budget," Sorrell said.

The new YMCA will not have a pool, but Whitehall residents with YMCA memberships will have access to pools at other YMCA branches.

The city will partner with a variety of local organizations in addition to the YMCA of Central Ohio to offer as many programs as possible, leaders said.

Fitness and life-skills programming will be among the classes offered.

"Our teaching kitchen will provide the opportunity (to provide instruction on) how to make nutritional meals in the home," Sorrell said.

Brian Kridler, senior vice president of strategy and innovation for the YMCA of Central Ohio, said the YMCA "is proud to have this opportunity to partner with Whitehall to design and build an innovative space (to serve) children, youth and men and woman of all ages."

M+A Architects also are partners in the project.

Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard said the YMCA will further enhance the 85-acre Whitehall Community Park.

"Our parks and recreation department has worked tirelessly to improve every one of the city's five parks this year, and breaking ground on the Whitehall Community Park YMCA is a wonderful way to culminate these efforts," Maggard said.