Tampa Metropolitan Area Y President and CEO Tom Looby talks to residents about the  proposed location of the Riverview Y. The new facility is hoped to be built on county owned land adjacent to the Vance Vogel Sports Complex, in Riverview.

Hillsborough County officials and representatives of Tampa Metropolitan Area Y recently hosted a public meeting to receive comments on a proposal to build a Y on county owned lands adjacent to the Vance Vogel Sports Complex, off Bullfrog Creek Rd., just north of Big Bend Rd. in Riverview.

The meeting began with County Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP) Acquisition Manager Kurt G. Gremley, who explained to a roomful of residents that the proposed site of the new Y is a small portion of an ELAPP county owned property.

If approved, the $6-8 million project will be funded jointly with the Y, with about $2 million provided by the county, which will then be leased to the Y for the cost of the use of the land.

Drawing attention to a market study conducted in 2010, Tampa Metropolitan Area Y President and CEO Tom Looby emphasized that the project would provide much needed additional recreational facilities in southern Hillsborough County.

“The study surveyed approximately 700 residents within the Riverview, Apollo Beach and Gibsonton area and revealed an overwhelming desire for a new facility to be built,” Looby said.  “The study was all positive and showed that the need for a new Y is significant.”

Voicing a different view, Riverview resident Mary Beth Sultenfuss was not in favor of the county’s financial contribution. 

“I am not against the Y, but I do have a problem with our tax dollars spent on a private business,” she said. “Why can’t we spend the money on our own sports facilities and ball fields?”

In answer, Looby mentioned that the Y is a nonprofit charitable organization that provides services in partnership with the local government to accommodate the needs of the community.

“Understanding what our organization does is important in order to see the benefits of its partnership with the public,” Looby said.

East Bay Little League president and current Y member Dean Walters mentioned that while his organization does not see the project as a threat to the league, which plays and practices at the Vance Vogel Sports Complex, attention to the necessity of additional sports facilities built by the county should also be considered.

While the meeting mainly concerned the proposed location of the Y by Vance Vogel Park, Looby entertained some questions and comments by those present in connection with some of the other aspects of the project, which include various indoor recreational facilities, an aquatic center and various athletic fields.

“Our goal is to build what the people wanted,” Looby said. “If this location is approved, an additional meeting will be scheduled to discuss the project in more detail including some of the specific functions.”

Looby was unable to provide a time frame of the project, but did confirm that, if the proposed location is approved, construction of the facility’s outdoor portion will likely start by the end of 2013 with the indoor portion to follow.

For more information, call 272-5810 or visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org.

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