The proposed new YMCA-managed facility in Blue Hill will cost about $3.5 million to build. Credit: Courtesy of Carpenter Associates of Old Town

BLUE HILL — In the United States, approximately 11 people die every day from drowning, and about one in every five victims is 14 years old or younger.

That’s why Robyn Sealander loves the idea of people learning how to swim at the new Lawrence Family Fitness Center.

Developers of the $3.5 million community center broke ground Friday on the new facility adjacent to Tradewinds Marketplace. Construction is due to finish late next year. Run by the Down East Family YMCA, it will complement YMCA facilities in Bucksport and Ellsworth, organizers have said.

[New Blue Hill YMCA to feature six-lane swimming pool]

A member of the Down East Family YMCA’s board of directors, Sealander thinks the six-lane pool that will be part of the facility will make a big difference to the towns of the Blue Hill Peninsula.

Credit: Courtesy of Carpenter Associates of Old Town

“It will mean so much to so many people here, from high schoolers to older folks,” Sealander said Friday.

The 13,000-square-foot facility will effectively double the size of the adjacent Blue Hill YMCA on South Street. Chuck and Belinda Lawrence, who have owned their Tradewinds store for 19 years, formed the non-profit Lawrence Family Foundation to administer the construction of the building and other gifts to the community.

The Lawrences were highly praised for their generosity and community-mindedness during the ribbon-cutting.

“They are just great supporters of the community in general,” said Lori Sitzabee, executive director of the Blue Hill Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. “They treat us very well.”

Construction workers will begin clearing the site on Monday and seek to do as much work as they can before the first winter snowfall. Construction will resume in the spring.

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