DAMARISCOTTA — The Central Lincoln County YMCA is celebrating the grand opening of its new, multimillion-dollar facility on Sunday. But on Friday, CLC YMCA officials gave a sneak peak of the new, expanded healthy living center to a special guest: U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.

King, following a walking tour of businesses in downtown Damariscotta, spent about an hour walking around the transformed facility with CEO Meagan Hamblett. In an interview with members of the media following the tour, King said the new CLC YMCA can be “transformative” for the community.“This is a place for the kids and a place for seniors and a place for people to come,” King said. “This is an incredible community facility to bring people together.”

The CLC YMCA broke ground on Phase I of the expansion project in May and is holding its grand re-opening less than a year after construction began. Hamblett said that is a testament to the dedicated construction workers, contractors, staff and the community.

The new addition includes a large, modern weight room, new locker rooms, an elevated track, spin studio, welcome area, commercial teaching kitchen and lobby area with fireplace and seating for more than a dozen people. Phase II of the project will include an aquatic center and family locker room.

Behind the scenes, there is underground fiber optic cabling that will provide reliable high-speed internet and free WiFi throughout the facility, new insulation, a gas-fired furnace and, maybe the most exciting improvement for many, air conditioning.

Hamblett said she was surprised when she found out that King was coming to tour the facility, and she said the new and improved YMCA is exactly what Maine should be about.

“The impact this is going to have on the youngest to the oldest (people) with healthy living and social responsibility is huge,” Hamblett said. “We are all going to be working together.”

Maine has an aging population, and in order to sustain its economy and retain and recruit more people, especially millennials to the state, places like the CLC YMCA are needed. For a community like Damariscotta and its neighbors, the center’s importance cannot be overstated.

“You give them a weight room and broadband, and you’re halfway there,” King said.

Hamblett said she wants every realtor selling a home in the region to come to the new YMCA and show it off because it’s definitely a selling point and a draw, especially for young families. This can be the place where kids can be after school and where seniors can recreate, Hamblett said.

King, who grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, said his mother was a big supporter of and volunteer at local YMCAs, but he said he didn’t have anything like the facility in Damariscotta.

“I look at this as more than an athletic facility: it’s really a community center,” King said. “You’re going to come here in November and see people sitting around here talking and watching football.”

With the expansion, the CLC YMCA is partnering with Focus on Agriculture in Rural Maine Schools (FARMS) to utilize the teaching kitchen to show Lincoln County students about cooking with fresh, locally-sourced foods. Spectrum Generations’ coastal center is also moving to the new facility.

Hamblett said to accommodate the new amenities and provide the best service to the community, three new full-time staffers have been hired, including a healthy living director who will oversee the healthy living space, fitness programs and personal trainers.

The grand re-opening celebration begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday and will include the CLC YMCA’s annual meeting.

As King was leaving, he turned and smiled and expressed his thanks and appreciation for the people who made this community dream a reality.

“This place is amazing and the way the community came together is a real expression of Maine,” King said.