EDITORIAL: Renovating Grimes Gym a healthy investment

York Dispatch
  • The Voni B. Grimes Gym is on East College Avenue in the City of York.
  • It's been the nucleus of community events in its neighborhood for a century.
  • A public-private partnership is investing more than $1 million into renovating the facility.

The Voni B. Grimes Gym is probably best known as the place where —for generations — some of York's legendary basketball players honed their skills.

That description, however, would sell the facility short — way short.

RSDC Director Dylan Bauer speaks during a news conference regarding the renovation of Voni B. Grimes Gym in York City, Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The venerable East College Avenue building is much more than just gym with a basketball court.

It's where's people go to show off new moves on dance nights and gloat about wins on game nights.

It's where younger athletes go to lift weights and older residents go to lift their spirits.

It's where's folks from all walks of life go to strengthen their bodies and enrich their souls.

It is, in every sense of the word, the nucleus of a neighborhood.

Unfortunately, it's also a 100-year-old building in need of serious repair.

The renovation: Fortunately, the local community has stepped up in a big way to refurbish the building.

Thanks to more than $1 million in private business investments and state tax credits, Royal Square developers are moving forward with plans to reinvigorate Voni Grimes Gym.

At a news conference last Tuesday, on the playground outside the gym, city and state officials joined developers from RSDC (formerly Royal Square Development and Construction) to announce that funding was secured to replace the roof and renovate the exterior of the gym.

Royal Square developers to renovate Voni Grimes Gym

The funds were made available through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Neighborhood Assistance Program, which is administered through the YWCA York.

Businesses contribute in big way: Five York County businesses — Glatfelter Insurance Group, M&T Bank,Northwest Savings Bank,PeoplesBank and the York Water Co. — each agreed to invest $250,000 over the next five years.

It's a public-private investment that should pay off handsomely for the neighborhood and the city.

The businesses involved should be commended for their civic-minded actions. Their commitment is a big reason why the Voni Grimes project came out on top in an “extremely competitive” funding process with the state, according to DCED Secretary Dennis Davin.

The roof and exterior renovations will be completed in year three of a multiyear plan using NAP funds.

In the first two years of the program, city officials and RSDC replaced lighting fixtures, trees and more than a half-mile of sidewalks. With fourth-year funding from the NAP program, RSDC plans to improve the aesthetics of the gym.

Part of larger project: It's a significant part of a larger project of neighborhood development in the city, according to Kevin Schreiber, president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance.

Schreiber said that “block by block, building by building,” new life is being pumped into the heart of the city.

“This is exactly how we revive the neighborhood,” York City Mayor Kim Bracey said.

She's exactly right.

It shows what can be done when business folks, government officials and concerned citizens work together for the common good.

Hopefully, with a little hard work and tender, loving care, the Voni Grimes Gym will be good for another 100 years.