Family gives $3.5M toward new Pittsford YMCA

The YMCA of Greater Rochester has received a $3.5 million capital donation, the largest single donation in its 164-year history.

American Packaging Corp. (APC) CEO and Co-Chairman Peter Schottland and his wife Susan donated the funds to help the YMCA’s new branch in Pittsford reach its construction fundraising goals. The 140,000-square-foot facility, slated to open in September 2019, will be named the Schottland Family Branch.

“While there are other great places for working out and exercise, there’s nothing that does two things that the Y does so well: It covers so many facets of someone’s life, from child care and young adults to elderly folks,” Peter Schottland said. “And it’s not designed for the rich or poor. It’s designed for all people in the community. That’s what’s most important about the YMCA to me. Everybody’s included.”

The Schottlands have a decades-long affiliation with the Y. When they moved to Rochester in 1987 the only people they knew were Peter’s brother and his family. The Y helped acquaint them with the city and their neighbors.

“From day one the YMCA became a very important part of how we lived and what we did,” Schottland explained. “I was in the Indian Guides and Indian Princess program (now Adventure Guides). And I played basketball for many years and worked in the workout room. It’s been a terrific part of what we’ve done and how we’ve lived in this wonderful community. We’re deeply rooted in the YMCA program.”

Susan Schottland said she was at the Y probably twice a day when her children were young.

“It was such a vital part of our family growing up,” she said. “We lived just down the

street from the Y and we had four young children and it was part of their lives. They

made friends from different communities.”

YMCA President and CEO George Romell noted that the family for many years had been generous to the Y through APC. The Schottland family gift is a “testament to how great the Rochester community has been,” he said.

“The gift of the Schottlands came as a result of 30 years of engagement in the Y. This is a Y family through and through,” Romell said. “In the Y you don’t really know what people do. You just try to create this welcoming environment where anybody, from somebody who’s on the street to somebody who comes in in a Mercedes, has equal access.”

The $45 million, three-story Schottland Family Branch broke ground in December 2017 on 20 acres of land at Clover Street and Jefferson Road. Romell said the organization has spent roughly $20 million on construction and, thanks to the Schottland family donation, is more than one-third of the way toward reaching its total construction costs. The Schottland Family Branch is one of just four Greater Rochester YMCA locations bearing family names. Others include the Carlson MetroCenter in downtown Rochester and the association’s two overnight camps, Camp Cory in the Finger Lakes region and Camp Gorham in the Adirondacks.

“The Schottland family’s generosity is awe-inspiring,” said Dan Burns, M&T Bank regional president and YMCA corporate board member. “This transformative gift pushes the YMCA closer to completing a one-of-a-kind facility where children, families and seniors throughout the community will gather together.”

The Schottland Family Branch spans 120 yards from one end to the other. To the left of the building’s main entrance and closest to Clover Street will be a day care center and playground, while to the right of the front door and closest to the Y’s Jefferson Road entrance, will be a senior center.

The new facility, which Romell has dubbed a Mega Y and will be among the largest in the country, will feature four gymnasiums, including one with turf flooring, several exercise and workout studios, locker rooms and a six-lane pool that also features a warmwater recreational pool. A walking and running track will encircle the four gyms.

Included in the new building will be a full-sized community wing that will feature a teaching kitchen, the senior center, which can be used as a multipurpose space at night, an art center and a studio specifically for teens. The new facility also will feature the Depot, an Adventure Center for children that will be designed to look like an old train station. The space for teens, called the Exercise Your Mind Center (EYM), is a makerspace, or collaborative workspace, that will feature 3D printing, music booths, video game production and more, Romell said. The space specifically will address science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) principles.

The new building also will include 15,000 square feet of space inhabited by University of

Rochester Medicine. UR and YMCA in May signed an 11-year agreement in which UR

will have a presence in each of the Greater Rochester Y’s 17 locations.

The Schottland Family Branch will have the most significant UR presence, which will include wellness programs, lectures, flu clinics and more.

The biggest difference between the new YMCA building and others is first the “fullblast” commitment by UR to be an integral part of the day-to-day operations of the Y, Romell said. The second difference is a vast upgrade in space and services that the public may not typically think of a Y for. Those services include the art center, the senior center, the teaching kitchen and the makerspace.

“A lot of people get an opportunity to come to this building from all over the place, including the inner city,” Romell said, noting that when the new facility is at its peak it will help support the overall YMCA mission. “We don’t do this in a vacuum. We did it this giant because we know it can generate important funds for the rest of the community that doesn’t have that opportunity.”

The Schottland Family Branch will be on a bus line, Romell said, but some 675 parking spots are being set aside for members. Next summer a new traffic light will be installed on Jefferson Road at the facility’s new entrance.

Once the new location—expected to have upwards of 20,000 members—is open, the YMCA will close its Southeast branch, which sits roughly two miles down the road from the new Y and is landlocked so it cannot expand further. Built in 1972, the Southeast branch has struggled to serve its growing population for decades. A local church congregation will purchase and occupy the existing facility once it is vacated.

The YMCA has named its Southeast Branch executive director Jeff Cogan as the new Schottland Family Branch executive director once the Southeast facility is closed, officials said

The Schottland family’s commitment to Rochester is seen in both its philanthropy and the family business. Earlier this year APC opened a new flexographic printing and laminating facility in Chili. The company employs roughly 250 people here, Peter Schottland said.

“We wanted to support something in a meaningful way that would impact as many people (as possible), along with the future people we expect to bring in to our company over time,” he said of the family’s donation to the Y. “I can’t think of a better way than the YMCA that has the broad reach that it does over so many people’s lives if you choose to avail yourself of it.”

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