Mid-Willamette Family YMCA Director Chris Reese is a retired military helicopter pilot, so he’s used to maneuvering large equipment with joysticks.
In that life, he always avoided collisions of any kind.
But Thursday morning, Reese took the controls of a large excavator and punched a large hole into a wall at the former Oberto Sausage Co. building in Albany.
The structure is being razed to make room for two new sports fields. They will join two fields soon to be constructed on YMCA property south of a warehouse at 34th Avenue and Pacific Boulevard, Reese said.
In the long term, additional property may be acquired for a fifth field, he added.
“What a fantastic day,” Reese said. “When I became director here in July 2019, I set a goal of two years to develop these fields. It was an honor to run that excavator and tear into that wall.”
Reese said Matt Chavarria of Silverton will demolish the 40,000-square-foot building and clean up the 4½-acre site.
“Matt has a construction company and helped save Silver Creek Falls during the fires,” Reese said.
Chavarria works with Fred Patterson, the YMCA property manager.
“When we asked him if he could help us, he said absolutely and also said he believes there will be enough recyclable materials such as copper and steel to pay for the demolition. He plans to do this for about $195,000. We thought it might cost up to $1 million.”
In addition to metals, Chavarria will crush concrete and asphalt into small pieces so it can be sold as fill.
Reese said Republic Services is also playing a big role, providing 80 to 90 large containers for debris removal.
“They have given us a big discount. We couldn’t do this without them,” Reese said. “We’ve had incredible community support.”
Reese said his goal is to have the two fields by the warehouse on line by June and the two fields on the former Oberto property by next November. The fifth field would come later as property becomes available.
Reese said community members will soon be able to follow the project’s progress via a time-lapse camera that will be linked to the YMCA website.
When done, the five fields will encompass 589,000 square feet of synthetic turf.
Reese said at least one of the fields will be extra-large and likely be available for other community activities such as music concerts.
He also hopes to bring the Special Olympics back to Albany.
In 2016, the YMCA bought the Oberto property, valued at $1.5 million, for $600,000.
Total project cost is estimated at about $8 million. The majority of that will come from a grant from the Community Sports Development Alliance.
Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.
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