The Martha’s Vineyard YMCA took its major expansion plans before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission Thursday, the first stop in the permitting process to add a field house to its Oak Bluffs property. 

Officials from the YMCA presented their application to build a 39,000-foot addition, adding an indoor basketball court, exercise studios, indoor track and a golf simulator to the existing facility. 

The field house was originally slated to be built with the rest of the complex in 2009, but was sidelined to save money following the 2008 mortgage crisis and resulting economic slowdown. Further plans to revive the project were scuttled about five years ago due to a lack of wastewater capacity in the area on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road. 

A rendering of the addition. — Courtesy of the YMCA

The YMCA has started raising money to build the gym and make other improvements that include connecting its Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena to the Oak Bluffs wastewater system, said YMCA executive director Jill Robie-Axtell. 

The expansion hopes come as the fitness, sports and community center is booming, with about 12,000 members and guests. 

“The need has never been greater,” Ms. Robie-Axtell said, showing the commissioners a time-lapse video of high school students streaming through the YMCA doors shortly after 2 p.m.

“We call it ‘teen o’clock,’” she said. “We get a couple hundred kids a day coming over from the high school [to] the teen center, the café or to work out.”

Ms. Robie-Axtell said the Y has not been able to accommodate younger teens and tweens after school.

“We don’t have the space for the middle-school age,” she said.

The YMCA also has members as old as 100 and babies as young as six months who come for swimming lessons, Ms. Robie-Axtell said.

The field house addition will increase the Y’s capacity and its versatility, she said, as the gym can be used for a wide variety of activities as well as court sports.

An upper-level, indoor running track will encircle the gym, which also will have studios and a golf simulator underneath.

Martha’s Vineyard superintendent of schools Richard Smith testified in support of the YMCA plan, saying the organization has been a good partner with the school system.

“Without them, we would have several hundred kids who wouldn’t have access to after-school programs,” he said.

“It’s not just our high school kids,” Mr. Smith said. “We have really young children at all of our elementary schools that we use our buses to [take] to after-school programs.”

Del Araujo, who runs the YMCA café, also spoke up for the expansion.

“As somebody that grew up here, [with] brothers and sisters that grew up here, to have a basketball space, to have a space to be able to go and be able to recreate … I think it’s bigger than what we actually know. It’s something that’s needed, for kids to have a resource,” said Mr. Araujo, who also owns the Aquila café in Aquinnah.

As part of the field house project, the YMCA has agreed to protect an area of open space that state wildlife officials have identified as critical habitat for a number of threatened moth species.

The Y also has set up a housing fund for its employees and reached an agreement with neighboring Martha’s Vineyard Community Services for overflow parking during ice hockey playoffs at the arena, which Ms. Robie-Axtell said are the only times parked cars tend to overwhelm the Y lot.

Commissioners continued the hearing to Dec. 7.

Editor's note: This report previously misstated the status of ongoing fundraising efforts for the project. It has been corrected.