By Tamas Mondovics
South county residents will soon see construction of a new YMCA thanks to the Hillsborough Board of County Commission’s recent unanimous approval of a lease agreement with the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA for the construction of the family facility on county-owned land next to Vance Vogel Park, near Big Bend Road and I-75.
Commissioner Sandy Murman spoke highly of the project and her support of last month’s vote when she said, “I look forward to it being a welcome addition to South Hillsborough County.”
As it has been explained at public meetings held prior to the BOCC’s approval, the new YMCA will consist of a main family facility building, aquatic center, multi-purpose fields, covered basketball courts, picnic pavilion and playground.
The project is a public-private, joint-use lease agreement between the Y and Hillsborough County, which has committed to provide $2,000,000 toward the first construction phase, which includes three multi-purpose fields, a playground, picnic pavilion, a covered basketball court, parking and drainage improvements, Y officials said.
The Tampa YMCA is responsible for the remaining $1,500,000 cost to construct phase one, which is anticipated to be completed by April 2015.
The Tampa Y is responsible for the cost and construction of phase two, which consists of an aquatics center, and phase three, which includes the main facility and additional parking. The total estimated cost is $8,500,000 and it’s anticipated to be complete in the next three to five years depending upon capital fundraising efforts.
“There is a lot of excitement in this growing community for a safe place to provide much-needed services to an under-served part of the county,” Tampa Y senior group vice-president, Cindy Sofarelli said.
While many agree with the successful programs offered at area YMCA facilities, the county’s use of public funds for the new Apollo Beach center did not sit well with some local, already well-established wellness and fitness centers.
Apollo Beach Racquet and Fitness Club owner, Mary Beth Sultenfuss, who has been voicing her concerns in connection with the county’s involvement of funding the project, was disappointed but not surprised of the outcome.
“I knew it was going to go through,” she said. “This was decided long before the first meeting. But what I still can’t understand is how public funds are OK to be used to support the funding of a private business, no matter how much it is needed.”
For more information, contact Lalita Llerena at 224-9622, ext. 240 or Lalita.Llerena@tampaymca.org.