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South County YMCA to break ground Jan. 21

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The new Y will be located off Big Bend Road, just east of Interstate 75, directly south of Vance Vogel Park.

By PENNY FLETCHER

The groundbreaking of a new South County YMCA won’t be a public affair, but the Y plans an Open House later in the year.

Meanwhile, YMCA officials want to keep the community and its potential users informed about its  progress.

On Jan. 21 at 11 a.m., a private affair for members of the Tampa Bay Metropolitan Area YMCA and county officials helping to make the project happen will take place inside Vance Vogel Park on Bullfrog Creek Road in Gibsonton.

The new Y will be located off Big Bend Road, just east of Interstate 75, directly south of Vance Vogel Park.

The plans for this originally came up almost three years ago when the county was seeking a way to expand fields and programs in the area through a public-private partnership such as it had in several other areas.

Three public meetings were held in South County before the plan went to County Commissioners Aug. 7. They voted to commit to providing $2 million toward Phase I of the project, with the Y putting up another $1.5 mil.    

The first part of Phase I was the Design Phase, and will now be followed by the construction of three athletic fields; a single-court covered open gym; a pavilion with restrooms, storage and concessions; a playground; site grading, utilities, drainage, permits and parking.

Originally this phase was scheduled to be completed by April 2015 but now the county and the Y expect to have it open — with programs running — by December.

“At that time we plan to hold a grand opening for the public complete with a ribbon cutting,” said Cindy Sofarelli, senior group vice president for the YMCA area including all of South County, Balm, Lithia and Brandon.

A special land-lease with the county makes it possible for new fields and athletic programs the county cannot pay for or operate alone, said Kurt Gremley, representing Hillsborough County.

Such a public-private partnership between the county and the Y has been successful in Town n’ Country, Gremley said.

The YMCA will be responsible for paying for Phase II, which is slated to include two multi-purpose athletic fields and a second “air-nasium” court (which is an open gym) at a cost of about $400,000, to open approximately a year after Phase I.

Last is the aquatics center and a multi-purpose family facility, which would be expanded as funds allow.

The estimated cost of this phase is about $1.5 million of Y funds and is expected to be finished in 2016.

This will allow local high schools to have swimming teams, and for many other events not now available to the schools, Sofarelli said.

More information about the YMCA, and contact numbers for those who would like to become involved in its boards and councils, is available at http://www.tampaymca.org.

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