Our History

  1. In 2001, there were start-up meetings of a small group of area residents interested in bringing a community center to the Penn Yan area. These initial meetings were held at the office of Dr. Ed Eaves.

    There were several such meetings until incorporation and naming as a New York State 501-c-3 not-for-profit organization with its appropriate certification from the Secretary of State for New York State. Much work was done by Ed Eaves and Willie Taaffe with considerable input from other members of the group including Don Stork, Bob Davis, Bob Hoban, and Jim Carey. There have been others along the way who have been most helpful in various aspects of planning – Steve Isaacs of the Yates Industrial Development Agecy, Dr. Joe Burke, president of Keuka College and Dr. Rolf Zerges. Discussions were held with The Village of Penn Yan officials to determine the feasibility of building a community center.

    In the fall of 2002, Board members were selected; the name Yates Cultural & Recreational Resources, Inc. was chosen and meeting times established. Meetings were held in the IDA Board Room. Meetings have also been held in the Executive Session Room of the Village Hall, next door to the YCRR Office. Meetings are now held at 7:00 a.m. at the Wagner Restaurant private room. A survey was designed with input from all Board members plus Dan Doyle of the Village Recreation Department. This survey to determine citizen interest was circulated through the Chronicle-Express. Programming ideas were solicited from many area organizations, churches, and businesses. The Village Recreation Department offered a plan for youth recreation and shared services of staff.

    Following efforts by the original core group, YCRR received $6,000 from the Village of Penn Yan, supplemented by additional funds from friends of YCRR to pay for a feasibility study on the need for a community center in Yates County/Penn Yan. This study was done by DeWolff Architects. $25,000 was received from then New York State Senator Randy Kuhl for the new organization to get underway. This allowed the fledgling corporation an opportunity to contract with an architectural firm to come up with potential plans.

    Since those early days there have been at least 85 YCRR Board meetings and over 250 committee meetings.

    At the same time that major discussions for a new school building were taking place, plus talk of a new library building, YCRR Board members attended several meetings at the school and even had plans drawn up for conversion of the Academy to a joint Library/Community Center using the current buildings and modifying them. Even though this had taken several months, these plans were scrapped due to the school vote which determined the school would stay where it was. But we were prepared to move ahead.

    Two Board members, Barbara Pinckney and Robert Davis, were appointed to work on the Library Building Committee to determine if the Community Center/Library could still be a viable partnership in a different location. Each group eventually decided to go its own way with building or re-building plans.

    Several businesses and individuals were solicited for cash gifts and pledges or in-kind donations. This income helped defray expenses as office equipment was purchased in preparation for paid staff. In May 2004, a staff member was employed, Executive Director Amy Leisenfelder. Office space was donated by J Carey & Co., CPA’s.

    In the summer of 2004, the Penn Yan Fire Department generously offered its help to prepare a free chicken barbecue Kick-Off at the Boat Launch site, one of many sites under consideration for the Community Center. Approximately 1,000 attended this fun affair. Agonal Rhythm provided music. The school-based HUBBA, (Help Us Build Better Assets), under the direction of Nancy Jameson, organized the creation of a hand-painted canvas “quilt”. A photograph of this quilt, artistically created by Volunteer Kent Salisbury, is now used extensively in our promotional literature. It was at this barbecue that a $100,000 lead donation was announced from a local couple. This gift was matched at that same time by a New York State grant in the amount of $100,000 by then New York State Senator Randy Kuhl, the grant to be administered by the Office of Children & Family Services.

    In June of 2004, Marianne Trombley accepted an un-paid position as Volunteer Coordinator and began to form a nucleus of YCRR volunteers who assisted with a variety of events. The job was offered as a 20-hour-a-week paid position early in 2005 and Mrs. Trombley was hired.

    A major attempt involving countless hours in 2004 was put together by Ed Eaves, Willie Taaffe, Bob Davis and Don Stork to present YCRR’s case to Yates County for support. No support was granted even though several legislators were in favor of the project and wrote letters of support. The County did allocate two hours of the County grant writer’s time. Several additional Board members attended the presentation to the Legislature.

    In the fall of 2004, Ed Eaves donated equipment for an exercise center. Negotiations were begun with Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital for use of a freestanding hospital building that had been a former doctor’s office on North Main Street. A lease arrangement with the hospital was put in place thanks to the S&S Board and James Hiserodt, Site Administrator. We are grateful for S & S Hospital’s generosity in leasing the building to us for our use at no rental fee, with YCRR paying the insurance and utility costs plus all repairs of equipment and items needed for the running of the Fitness Center.

  2. With considerable help from many area businesses and contractors, YCRR volunteers and staff members, the building was made ready for opening a Fitness Center in February 2005. Under the direction of a Volunteer Coordinators, many members became volunteers at the Center, not just for shifts but for fund-raising events as well. Since the opening, more than 1,000 people have come through the door of the Fitness Center, either as short-term visitors, members or volunteers or long-term members and volunteers. There is a current group of 50 volunteers to man the shifts 7 days a week. New record keeping measures were undertaken with the employment of Lisa A. Miller as Project Coordinator on January 2, 2007. Board member Mike O’Brien volunteered to set up a new computer software program for tracking membership information, invoice generation, etc. Ms. Miller as Project Coordinator manages this.

    Volunteer Appreciation get-togethers have been held regularly since 2005 including an initial event at Lyons National Bank generously catered by The Wagner Restaurant. Awards and gifts have been given to volunteers and paid volunteer staff. Monies for these functions were reimbursed to YCRR by Board members and/or businesses that gave wine and food.

    In October of 2005 a modest fund-raising campaign was launched with Board members and several volunteers serving on the teams. New promotional materials had been printed expressly for this purpose and several teams moved out into the community to raise awareness of the project and also to solicit funds.

    HUBBA students from Penn Yan Academy made a presentation to the Board and requested space in the proposed building for an office. There have been ongoing contacts with the PYCSD administration regarding possible ways to link programming when the Center is built and help in the search for appropriate grants.

    Contacts were made with the Pennsylvania Yankee Theatre Company (PYTCO) to see if there was an interest in a shared facility. PYTCO has since launched its own campaign to rebuild the Sampson Theater on East Elm Street in Penn Yan.

    In the early days of the organization, a partnership was developed with the Yates County Office for the Aging and its then director, Julia Teahan, to incorporate a Senior Site into
    the proposed Community Center. Using statistics on seniors in Yates County a grant was written to the NYState Governor’s Office for Small Cities for a Community Development
    Block Grant. The Executive Director wrote these extensive grants. The first request in April 2005 was denied. The second request in April 2006 was granted in late August 2006 in the amount of $400,000 to the Village of Penn Yan for YCRR’s seniorcenter. Recently, Stephanie Baines of the Office for the Aging has worked with YCRR’s Board to discuss ideas for the layout of the Senior Center in the proposed new building, plus programming possibilities. (In the fall of 2008, we learned that the grant would not be awarded to the Village of Penn Yan as construction was not started before the deadline for grant monies disbursement.)

  3. The Site Selection Committee, chaired by Bob Davis, inspected a minimum of 10 sites in and around the Village of Penn Yan for the possible location of the Community Center. A Board member was responsible for the contact with our land donor – The Maeske Family. Virginia Maeske generously donated approximately 6 acres of land behind the John D. Kelly Behavioral Center. 18 months of work took place from the spring of 2005 through the fall of 2006 between the YCRR Board, the S&S Board, Finger Lakes Health Board, surveyors, engineers and lawyers regarding the placement of an access road through hospital property to our site. Late in 2006, the Maeske Family agreed to allow the access road above to go through its property to the YCRR site. In the spring of 2007, through the efforts of Board members Jerry Kernahan and Don Stork plus the cooperation of Pat Crowe of Chrisanntha Corporation and the willingness of the Maeske Family, additional acreage was given to YCRR to bring the total to nearly 14 acres.

    YCRR attorney Tiffany Sorgen facilitated the work with engineers, lawyers and surveyors plus officials in the Village of Penn Yan and the Town of Benton, officials of New York State Electric & Gas, plus completing filing of property tax exempt status to transfer the property from the Maeske Family to YCRR and to annex the property into the Village of Penn Yan. The additional land allows for better site placement of the building, a possible future expansion of a swimming pool and a better driveway access and parking. . (Note: Actual signing date to transfer property from Virginia A. Maeske to YCRR, April 25, 2007. Date of filing with Yates County Clerk, April 26, 2007. The land was annexed into the Village of Penn Yan early in 2008 and approved by the Village Planning Board in June 2008.) With assistance from Chrisanntha Construction Corporation, a sign designating the entrance to the property as the future home of the Yates Community Center was erected at what will be Maeske Lane on May 18, 2007. Board members were assisted by volunteer students from Penn Yan Academy on their annual Community Service Day to clear brush and cut down small trees at the entrance site. In 2008, additional students helped design a Power Point Program, placemats and T-shirts for promotional use and helped distribute YCRR publicity leaflets throughout businesses in the Village of Penn Yan.

    There is frequent contact with all elected officials – Village, County, NYS and Federal. We are currently seeking monetary assistance for the building of the road to the proposed Center. Board members Corinne and Donald Stork have taken the helm as Co-Chairs of the Capital Campaign to raise the additional funds for the project. After considerable research by the Storks in the spring of 2007, Jane Hexter of Grantomatics, Inc. was hired as a professional grant writer to assist YCRR in the raising of funds for the project.

  4. As other grants are written, YCRR remains in compliance with laws regulating not-for-profit corporations with the NYS Attorney General’s Office and the NYS Secretary of
    State. In the fall of 2006, YCRR received a grant in the amount of $75,000 from New York State Senator George Winner and New York State Assemblyman James Bacalles through the New York State Community Capital Assistance Program. In the spring of 2008, a grant to YCRR, Inc. in the amount of $100,000 was announced by Senator Winner’s office. In addition to an application in 2008 to a locally represented foundation for program assistance, there are plans to apply to an area foundation for approximately $100,000 in furnishings once the building is constructed. Grants for office equipment and exercise equipment have been received from the Gordon Trust and the Finger Lakes Health Foundation. $10,000 was received from the J.M. McDonald Foundation in October 2007. Money received from grants to date exceeds $300,000, but that is not a lump sum of money in YCRR’s bank account. Most of it is held in trust for YCRR and when YCRR meets the criteria for payment those monies will be released.

    There have been approximately 80 articles in newspapers concerning the progress of the project. There have also been radio interviews, letters to the editor, posters, banners,
    pamphlets, newsletters, etc. YCRR has recently updated some promotional materials with the help of Pat Lampson of the ARC Print Shop in Penn Yan.

    In YCRR’s history are chicken barbecues; two 5-K runs; a successful fund-raising breakfast at the Moose Club; a spaghetti supper at the Elks Club; a Garage Sale at the Firemen’s Field; another fund-raising breakfast at the airport; golf tournaments with many sponsors solicited; participation in area-sponsored events such as Health Days and Sip ‘n’ Savor Wine Tastings. All these involved volunteers, staff and Board members. Board members also assisted at the HUBBA-sponsored Community Day event at the Firemen’s Field. The HUBBA Coordinator, Nancy Jameson, serves on the YCRR Board. Two AmeriCorps volunteers who work with HUBBA have also worked part-time for YCRR. Proceeds from a major fund-raiser at the Moose Club with assistance from an exercise-based program, Zumba, totaled $3,911 and were given to YCRR to benefit the Community Center Project Other leaders of programs are seeking similar activities under YCRR’s umbrella. Fund-raising events for 2007 and 2008 also included four wine tastings at Sarrasin’s-on-the-Lake plus annual golf tournaments and more benefit meals at the Loyal Order of the Moose and Elks Clubs. Financial gifts exceeding $45,000 from Don Stork’s 80th birthday celebration in early June of 2007 were donated to YCRR.

    There have been four YCRR Annual dinners with auction items solicited from area businesses, Board members and other supporters of the project. Once again, volunteers helped with decorations, auction items and registration. In addition to volunteering hours at the Fitness Center, volunteers have manned booths at area Health Days, at the Sidewalk Sale and prepared and served refreshments at Concerts on the Courthouse Lawn in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

  5. Three Design/Build companies have been contacted since the project first began. All of their offerings were evaluated and the choice of Chrisanntha Construction Corporation was initially made for the current design. Later, the YCRR board decided to act as the General Contractor and utilize local construction personnel. Jerry Kernahan, a retired engineer with the NYS Dept. of Transportation, serves as Chairman of the Board of YCRR, Inc., and William McEvily serves as chairman of the Building & Facilities Committee.

    Several presentations have been made over the years to elected officials, Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, schools, Keuka College, the American Association of University Women, the Business & Professional Women and churches. Staff and Board members have attended conferences and workshops designed to help them understand the complexities of the task before them. Preliminary work has been done with area banks, the USDA loan department for rural areas, Rural Opportunities, Inc., to discuss funding a loan agreement at the appropriate time.

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Community Fitness
& Wellness Center Rates

Singles: One Day $5, One Week $15, One Month $25, Six Months $140, One Year $250
One Month $45, Six Months $250, One Year $395
One Month $65, Six Months$400, One Year $575

(Family of 4 included, additional charge per member over 4 members)

One-time Mandatory $10.00 Key Fob Charge (one per person)

Community Center Hours may vary due to holidays & inclement weather.

YCRR, Inc., a not-for-profit community-focused corporation, has begun to provide a framework for providing new cultural, recreational, and educational opportunities for Yates County residents.

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