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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Area YMCA has big plans in the coming year

A rendering of the Embrey Mill fitness facility, which the area YMCA hopes to run.

The upcoming year could be a busy one for the Rappahannock Area YMCA.

It is finishing its new Caroline County branch, preparing to apply to operate a new location in North Stafford and planning an extensive renovation at the Falmouth branch.

Rappahannock Area YMCA CEO Barney Reiley said the 41,000-square-foot Caroline branch, which is off U.S. 1 in the Ladysmith area, should be open in time for Christmas.

“It will be a heck of a Christmas present,” Reiley said.

The YMCA has expressed interest in operating the fitness facility that Stafford County is now planning in the new Embrey Mill subdivision off Courthouse Road.

Stafford is investing about $11 million in the facility—which will include the region’s first 50-meter indoor competition swimming pool with a 2-meter depth, as well as a gym, classrooms, basketball courts and additional swimming pools.

The county plans to choose an operator to run the facility, and the YMCA is interested. Reiley said the county plans to put out a request for proposals from operators in the coming months, and the YMCA will apply. He expects to know whether the application was successful by the end of March.

It’s unclear whether any other fitness operators will also apply. The local Y has been consulted during the planning of the Embrey Mill facility, which will be in a complex that will also include multiple sports fields that are already under construction.

Reiley said the local YMCA has long eyed a North Stafford facility, which would give the organization a branch in essentially every locality in the local planning district (the Massad Family YMCA is in Stafford, but it’s a short drive from the city of Fredericksburg).

The YMCA has started work renovating the Massad branch, its oldest. The organization has been conducting a fundraising campaign for that project, with local real estate investor Mike Degen providing the lead, $50,000 gift.

The Massad branch renovation will involve a significant expansion of the wellness center.

About 20 pieces of new, state-of-the-art cardiovascular workout equipment will be added to the former aerobics and personal fitness room, which will be connected to the larger fitness room with a door and windows. Office space will be converted to become part of the weight room, and the Y plans to add new weight-training equipment next year.

The front desk is being moved to an area right next to the wellness center, which will create a large open lobby space. The entrance to the wellness center has already been moved to accommodate that plan.

“It’s really going to open the space up and make it more user-friendly,” Reiley said.

Reiley said the Massad project will begin in earnest in the next month or two, depending on how fast the organization can get building permits. He hopes to have it completed by the start of 2014.