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Ceremony Signals Start for Tuckahoe Parish Gym

TUCKAHOE, N.Y. – Parishioners and teachers at Tuckahoe’s Immaculate Conception School have often dreamed about constructing a state-of-the-art gymnasium for students and the community to use.

After more than a decade of planning and fundraising, that dream is finally set to become a reality.

Town officials, students, school and church personnel officially broke ground Thursday on the future site of the parish gymnasium.

“This is a long time coming,” Tuckahoe Mayor Steve Ecklond said. “We’re all so excited that they’ll have their own home. It’ll be nice for the students to have their own identity and space.”

After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, Westchester County Vicar John F. Ferry, blessed the work site. After a few remarks from Ecklond and Eastchester Town Supervisor Anthony Colavita, a sea of children in plastic yellow construction hats descended upon the land with their shovels, formally breaking ground for the gym.

The Rev. Eric Raaser, who has worked on the project for seven years, said the church found plans to build a gym in 1953 that never came to fruition.

“It’s a great feeling. The generosity we’ve experienced has truly been amazing,” he said. “The timing is great – most of the heavy and noisy construction will take place during the summer. Come September, we don’t expect any major problems for our students.”

The $3.5 million project is set to begin in earnest on July 1 and is expected to take eight months to complete. Peter Gisolfi Associates designed the 9,500-square foot building, and Howard Dym is the lead contractor.

“The building is going to be spacious, and will be particularly good for the parish,” Gisolfi said. “This will give them another assembly space. It won’t just be used for sports. It’s going to be used by the whole community.”

Raaser said that, to this point, the school has raised $2.8 million for the gym, but now that ground has been broken he thinks donations will start flying in.

“We have very generous alumni who have helped us and will help us a great deal,” he said. “We’ve been promising this gym for a long time. Once they see that dirt has actually been turned, we expect donations to come. We also expect that parents will pledge once the project gets going.”

The gymnasium will serve as the new home for the parish basketball teams, which have had to rent space at other gyms for practices and games. The school also hopes that it will help boost its volleyball program. The gym also will be used to host plays, school and community assemblies.

“We wish the Immaculate Conception School the best, and hope they have a great construction process,” Colavita said during his remarks. “I’m most impressed with these young people. One day you’ll take your children to this gym and say that ‘I was there when we broke ground here.’”

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