It took five years for it to become a reality, but with a well-attended ceremony, the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA broke ground last month on its outdoor amenities of phase one for The Family Y at Big Bend Rd.

Following a brief introduction, YMCA Governance Board Chair, Brett Couch, put things in perspective for all in attendance.

“This project is long overdue,” Couch first said, then added, “I want to thank Hillsborough County and the Board of County Commissioners for their support and generosity and helping us to change lives for a better community.”

Across the Association, 19 facilities engage more than 160,000 men, women and children — regardless of age, income or background.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place inside Vance Vogel Park at 13010 Bullfrog Creek Rd. in Gibsonton, welcoming more than 100 guests that included special dignitaries, YMCA representatives, Chamber of Commerce members from around the county and the Tampa Bay area as well as government officials and Hillsborough County Commissioners, Sandra Murman, Ken Hagan and Al Higginbotham.

“We have seen a huge growth in our community and this project is just one more example of how we can come together,” Murman said. “This event is a great investment and the result of a great partnership.”

Under a joint-use lease agreement between the Hillsborough County Board of County Commis- sioners and the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA last August, the new facility will consist of a main family facility building, 30,000-sq.-ft. aquatic center, multi-purpose fields, covered basketball court, picnic pavilion and playground.

Phase one of the project, which Hillsborough County provided $2M, includes three multi-purpose fields, a covered basketball court, a playground, a picnic pavilion and parking and drainage improvements with an anticipated completion date of 2014, offering youth and adult sports and summer day camp.

The new facility is also promising over 125 jobs, improving the quality of life for residents and creating a community hub by bringing together diverse groups of people for a common good.

YMCA officials said that the Tampa YMCA is responsible for the remaining $1.5M cost to complete phase one as well as for the cost and construction of phase two.

“The entire facility is anticipated to be complete in the next three to five years, depending upon capital fundraising efforts,” said Tampa Y Communications Director, Lalita Llerena. “There is a lot of excitement in the growing Southern Hillsborough County community for a safe place to provide much-needed services to an underserved part of the county.”

Emphasizing the association’s strong presence and what it means for the community, Tampa YMCA president and CEO, Tom Looby, said that the project is an important way to move forward in the Y’s commitment to the community.

Before the special guests each grabbed a gold-painted shovel, Looby said, “This new facility is the first full-service family Y in a decade. Hope we don’t have to wait 10 more years for another.”

For more information about the Tampa YMCA, visit

For more information about the county’s role in this project, contact Kurt Gremley at 272-5810 or 307-1007.


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