Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

Leo Adler’s love for Baker City continues to provide the spark needed to boost projects designed to benefit his hometown and the surrounding communities.

The latest project is an expansion of the Baker County YMCA, which will add a new gymnasium and double the size of its fitness center at 3715 Pocahontas Road to about 48,000 square feet.

When Adler died in November 1993 at the age of 98, he left the fortune he’d accumulated distributing magazines throughout the region to the community to fund college scholarships and projects such as the Leo Adler Memorial Parkway and others like the YMCA expansion.

Heidi Dalton, the Y’s CEO, said the recent award of $100,000 from the Leo Adler Foundation has set the stage for the Y to complete Phase II of the expansion plan that began in 2012.

That’s when the Y bought and renovated the former Wilson’s Warehouse Market at 3715 Pocahontas Road, bolstered by two $75,000 grants from the Leo Adler Foundation and other grants from organizations such as the Ford Family Foundation, the Oregon Community Foundation and the Meyer Memorial Trust.

Dick and Marge Haynes donated a half-acre of land adjacent to the site at that time for the addition of a new gymnasium and expansion of other fitness studios and an outdoor pickleball court in Phase II.

The plan also calls for expansion of the Y’s partnership with Integrative Physical Therapy to create a wellness center that will continue to provide physical therapy and other health services such as free consultations and health and wellness seminars to community members.

The track that encircles the upstairs of the current building for one-sixteenth of a mile will be extended to one-tenth of a mile upstairs in the new addition, which also will feature a large studio to house the Y’s expanding gymnastics program and other fitness classes. An elevator also will be part of the expansion to bring those who need assistance to the second floor.

The Leo Adler grant was the first one written five years ago and it was the first grant application made again this time around, Dalton said.

“Foundations across the state look to support from Leo,” she said, before considering funding Baker County projects.

“The beauty is that the mission of the Y and Leo’s vision of where his funds should go are aligned,” Dalton said. “We are able to serve a lot of people and are doing it in a way that is improving the health and well-being of the community.”

Dalton emphasizes that the YMCA is available to everyone of all ages in the community. And that won’t change with the new expansion.

Scholarships are available to help pay the way for those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate in the Y’s programs, she said.

See more in the Jan. 5, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.