SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The new $26 million dollar Jackie Robinson Family YMCA opens Saturday, and people who live in the neighborhood hope it can be the start of a new chapter for the community.
"That's what we need," said James Taylor, who lives a block away. "Build something nice, clean up the area, give kids somewhere to go."
Taylor said it's frustrating to see graffiti on the walls as he walks down the street, but he likes what he sees when he walks past the new building.
"It looks better than it did before, cause it looks bigger. It's got a swimming pool, basketball court," he said. "You know, they did a good job."
The building replaces the oldest YMCA in the city, which originally opened in 1943.
Yarazeth Alvarado used to go to the old one during high school. She said everything felt old. Now, she plans to join the new one.
"That means we're not left behind," Alvarado said. "I had seen a lot of YMCA's being remodeled in better communities. And it upset me that ours had really old equipment. This looks nicer. I'm pretty sure people will be more satisfied with it now."
Precious Jackson-Hubbard knows firsthand the impact a YMCA can have on a young mind.
She spent many days at the original Jackie Robinson Family YMCA and eventually got a scholarship through the organization. Now, she's the principal at Bell Middle School.
"I hope it will continue to be a safe place for our young people, I hope it will bring resources into this community that wouldn't otherwise be here," said Jackson-Hubbard. "Our young people deserve the best, just like any other young person in San Diego County, the children of southeastern San Diego deserve the best."
She says she's invested into the YMCA's future because her own daughter and students will be using it.
"The property itself represents community, it represents family and it represents safety," said Jackson-Hubbard.
The new facility hopes to serve more than 20,000 people in the surrounding community. Registration and memberships are available already. You can sign up on line here, or you can register in person at the facility. The address is 151 YMCA Way, San Diego, CA 92102.