The West Chester Zoning Commission unanimously approved a major zoning change Monday night that could lead to the development of a $12 million YMCA in the heart of West Chester.
Home to more than 60,000 residents, Ohio’s largest township has never had a YMCA or recreation center and while the zoning change has been approved by the zoning commission it will be years before any ground breaking.
Officials with the Lakota Family YMCA, which has a location in Liberty Township, proposed that the Y be built near the corner of Union Centre Boulevard and Beckett Road. An early hurdle, which was cleared Monday, was getting the zoning commission to approve the rezoning of the property that was designated as open space in the summer of 1975.
The next hurdle, West Chester Board of Trustees will have to give final approval of the zoning change during a public hearing that could take place next month. If approved, the Lakota Family YMCA will have to wait 30 days before presenting any final design plans to the zoning commission. Unlike the steps needed to make the zoning change, the commission has the power to approve and deny those plans without the backing of the trustees.
Despite the lack of any renderings of the proposed YMCA, officials with the Lakota Family group said that it will feature daycare center, a health and fitness center, an athletic field and a 65,000 square-foot outdoor pool and deck area. The YMCA could also feature more on its 10-acre lot depending on fundraising efforts.
Back in 1998, the West Chester Zoning Commission discussed a recreation center that would be funded by taxed increment financing and be owned and operated by the township.
Jim Williams, who is a current member of the commission and was a proponent of the recreation center 15 years ago, supports the proposed YMCA especially since it will be funded by private dollars.
“It would definitely be a home run for the community. The whole project is going to take two or three years to come about. If they can raise that kind of funds, it is going to be a win,” Williams said.
Lakota YMCA president Greg Amend said the first phase of the YMCA will cost between $5 and $6 million. That phase will consist of the daycare, fitness and all-purpose centers, as well as the outdoor pool. Later on, depending on fundraisers and membership drives, the Y could add gymnasiums and an indoor pool. The overall cost of the project is estimated at $12 million.
Assuming the proposed YMCA clears all its hurdles, Amend said his group is aiming to break ground in two or three years.
Not everyone is in favor of the proposed YMCA. Dan Meehan of West Chester said he would like a YMCA or recreation center in his community, but not in the proposed location. Meehan would rather see the Y built in a residential community, where residents could safely walk or bike to the community center.