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About 10 workers kept busy on Wednesday smoothing out more than 6,400 gallons of concrete into a newly rebuilt space that will soon become the men's locker room at the Billings Family YMCA, 402 N. 32nd St.

Four concrete trucks were emptied into a machine that pumped the slurry up to the second story, making the whole process go pretty quickly, said Langlas and Associates' Foreman Mike Brown.

Langlas is the lead contractor on the $1.9 million project, which has been in full swing since April 20. Workers from Billings Concrete were handling the pouring and smoothing on Wednesday.

Brown said he still remembers the days where a crew had to haul two three-gallon buckets of concrete up a flight of stairs. "There would be 10 or 12 guys doing nothing but moving buckets," he said. "By the end of the day you couldn't move."

Even though concrete work can be painful, Brown said he still relishes welding I-beams together and pouring floors. 

"I love concrete and structural steel. If your structure and steel are right, it's gravy," he said. "If you screw up, everyone else pays for it."

Rebuilding the floor was a necessary part of the locker rooms at the Y. The old floor had begun to rot after years of leaky showers, hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms caused structural damage that required repair.  

"It was pretty gross, but now it's going to be fresh and new." said Lane Huffman, the on-site supervisor for project.

As soon as the slab dries, Huffman will spend the next two days making sure it's up to par. "Once I get all the drains in, I'll put an inch of water all over the floor to make sure there won't be any leaks," he said.

As soon as the floor passes the 48-hour test, contractors will rapidly frame the area, he said. "By this weekend, the entire second floor will be framed."

The men's locker room should be completed by the end of August, said Corby Skinner, YMCA communications director. Work on the women’s locker room will begin immediately after the men’s, and should be completed before the end of the year.

The remodeled YMCA will have two fewer locker rooms than before. There used to be two men's, two women's and one family locker room. Members, for a fee, could access a "plus" locker room, which had amenities including hot tubs and steam rooms. 

The new configuration will free up space for additional services, Skinner said. "There's going to be a whole new exercise room that we didn't have before."

They will also have space for a massage therapist and new offices for maintenance.

Not everyone is happy about the change, he said. "We've had some people complain that wanted a sort of exclusive locker room." 

But the response has been more positive than expected, Skinner said. "We had anticipated a 15 percent drop off, and that hasn't happened."

Most members have taken the inconvenience in stride, as the new space will be far superior than the previous space with new steam rooms, a hot tub, lockers for both daily and overnight use and a new sauna, Skinner said. 

"They realize this is serious stuff," Skinner said. "The more people know about it, the more understanding they have been."

Tours of the new space are offered to members every Friday at 10 a.m. 



Chris Cioffi covers city news for The Billings Gazette in Montana.