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Mon Valley YMCA bolsters daycare security

| Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jeff Vitale, executive director of the Mon Valley YMCA, holds his daughter, Maria, on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, while checking out a sign announcing that sections of the YMCA have reopened following major renovations at the facility.

Concerned about security and motivated by the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary Center, Mon Valley YMCA Executive Director Jeff Vitale took a closer look at security for the children in the center's daycare facility.

“I considered whether our kids could be safer,” Vitale said. “Together with our staff, we looked at ways we could be even safer.”

That self-scrutiny led to rearranging the daycare setting.

The earliest daycare classes were moved from near a front door into an addition that was built within the existing building. A glass enclosed center was constructed.

Other daycare areas were juggled, including moving a preschool daycare for 3- and 4-year-olds into a former exercise room. That involved construction of restrooms as well.

A key card lock system was also installed in the daycare area.

The changes in the daycare program setting were a part of ongoing renovations and changes at the Mon Valley YMCA. More than $500,000 was spent on improvements at the Y in the past year, and close to $750,000 was invested in improvements there since 2010.

“This work was funded internally, setting aside money for the improvements,” Vitale said. “Ken (Wiltz, former executive director) and myself knew the capital improvements were needed and saved for them.”

A glass counter was built around the wellness center, requiring visitors to be buzzed in at the elevator.

“We know who's in the building at all times,” Vitale said.

In the gym, a hardwood floor replaced the rubberized flooring.

An excavation project was completed behind the building, which fixed drainage issues there.

“Because we redid the floor of the gym, we wanted to get that (drainage) issue fixed,” Vitale said.

Replacing the dehumidification system for the indoor pool is a part of the YMCA's going green efforts. The system captures the humidity and puts that back into the pool, decreasing water and heating costs. The heat from the compressor heats the pool.

The system regulates the air and water temperature of the pool. The pool is a constant 86 degrees regardless of the season.

Minor upgrades were made to the to the pool locker rooms, including new energy efficient water flow toilets. The women's locker room showers were replaced as was some of the tile in both locker rooms.

In 2014, updated security cameras and locks are planned.

Last year, the parking lot at the YMCA was replaced, a retaining wall was constructed, and a new HVAC system was placed on the newly constructed roof.

Keeping the facilities up to date is important, Vitale said.

“We're a viable asset to the valley,” Vitale said. “We're continually looking at ways to upgrade our facilities and give back to the community.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or