Heartsick to watch YMCA demolition

Am I the only one heartsick as I watch the stages of demolition of the Norwalk YMCA on West Avenue?

Letters to the editor. Send signed letters to Nancy@NancyOnNorwalk.com with a suggested headline.

Last week I noticed all the windows were out. A sure sign demolition was imminent. The memories started flooding: getting my scuba diving license in the small pool, swimming laps in the Olympic-sized pool after teaching at Ponus Ridge Middle School.

And the family memories: Me as a toddler living on the corner of West Avenue and Maple Street when my four older siblings Catherine, Patrick, Tommy, and Phyllis engaged in constant activities at the Y.

They only had to walk one block to meet their friends for ping pong, cards, swimming, dances, ball games, or just hanging out. Since my brothers and sisters were teenagers when I was born, their participation in the life of the Y became part of family lore that I heard over and over. The timeframe encompassed the 1940’s during and after the war, the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, when I left to live in the South. The Y was the heartbeat of Norwalk’s physical and social/emotional life. How are we replacing this for our next generation, I wonder?

Mary Ellen Flaherty-Ludwig
Norwalk resident


12 responses to “Heartsick to watch YMCA demolition”

  1. Anthony Pavia

    Incredibly large missed opportunity from a City that has a ton of staff but a ton of blindspots.

  2. walter o’reilly

    I was heartsick at what a disgrace the YMCA had become over the years. It’ll be nice to see that prime piece of real estate developed to it’s potential.

  3. Pam Parlakian

    It would have been nicer to see if that prime piece of real estate could have been preserved and reopened, and brought back to its original potential, which was fine with me.

  4. David Muccigrosso

    Walter’s right: You should have been heartsick at what happened to it, not it finally being put out of its misery.

    There’s no earthly reason why people coming off the highway into our fair city should be treated to a dilapidated blight. SHAME on the people who let this building get this bad.

  5. Tysen Canevari

    Would have been a great youth center for Norwalk. Instead an out of town developer builds apartments and gets it tax free for two years. Good job Norwalk! At. least the hospital was paying taxes on it.

  6. Bryan Meek

    @TC. The hospital doesn’t pay property taxes like ordinary people. They get a huge break and the state pays us 77 cents on the dollar, what they call payment in lieu of taxes. Still they pay more taxes than the mall which we just learned is less than half of what it cost to build just a few years later. I

    Bottom line is Norwalk homeowners get to pay for a significant portion of the hospital and mall and it is only going to get worse as the state’s finances continue to deteriorate.

    We’re already a billion short of where they predicted and it’s barely half way through the fiscal year.

    This latest report about the state’s cratering finances will not be on camera. https://osc.ct.gov/letters/april-2024/

  7. I noticed that they seem to be stripping fixtures, windows and such…. I’m no expert on demolition but it seems they could be planning to keep the shell of the building, which has some really unique architectural features – perhaps this is wishful thinking!

  8. Skip Hagerty

    Hopefully they will build apartments similar to the ones up the street near the firehouse. Beautiful design. However, I hope this complex is much taller…at least 12 stories.

  9. John C. Miller Jr.

    Mary Ellen is correct. The Y was part of the soul of Norwalk during the 40’s, 50’s 60’s; 70’s; and even into the 80’s. My father was on the Board of Directors in the 50’s; I had cousins who played biddy basketball there in the 60’s; in the 70’s, I used to meet a group of friends in the Nautilus Room every weekday at 5am for a workout before I headed to the office on Connecticut Avenue (we called ourselves “The Five O’clock Club” and would spot our late Mayor Frank Zullo in the pool most of those mornings); and, finally, both of my daughters took swim lessons at the Y in the early 80’s. What happened to that building following the closing of the Y is truly a shame and, for those of us Norwalk “lifers”, it will be strange not seeing that building on West Avenue but, fortunately, the memories will remain.

    1. Skip Hagerty

      Not long ago Norwalk had a real sense of community. Families had deep roots in town and people knew each other. We even had a hometown newspaper. People went to the parade, carnivals, and Friday night football games. Sadly, the old Norwalk that my wife and I grew up in is gone. We can thank people like Harry Rilling and Bob Duff for that. A great home town is now overwhelmed by traffic and large apartment complexes. It has become a city of transients. The demise of the Y building, where my friends and I spent many days playing basketball, sums up what our so-called leaders call “progress”. Very sad.

  10. Tysen Canevari

    According to our politicians this will bring business to Norwalk right? LOL right across the street Waypointe is still half empty. Washington Street is half vacant. Merrit 7 half empty. I guess you must be a liar to be a politician! I begged Mo Vaughn to buy the Y and make it a youth center but the hospital wanted 12 million which was a total rip off.

  11. Thomas Belmont

    We are numbers here. Our politicians have got their marching orders fro Hartford, and those from the WH initiatives. Progress excludes the numbers. The numbers are only good for doing what they are told to do, and paying what they are told to pay.

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