Wednesday, April 05, 2000

Loveland group pushing to save park

Council considers location for YMCA

Enquirer contributor

        LOVELAND — Almost everybody agrees Loveland needs some type of recreation center. There's less agreement on where it should be located.

        City Council is considering an ordinance that would allow a YMCA to be built on eight acres of Phillips Park, located between Rich and Fallis roads. The proposed ordinance also leases seven additional acres to the YMCA for possible expansion.

        Phillips Park, named in honor of Viola Phillips, Loveland's first female mayor, consists primarily of baseball-softball diamonds and soccer fields.

        The city also owns 40 acres of adjacent property known as the Simpson Farm, which has been designated as a conservation district.

        The YMCA is planned for a 15-acre piece of property purchased in 1996 from Pierre W. and Marlene M. Mather. The city bought 10 acres and the Mathers donated the additional five.


        The Committee to Save Phillips Park thinks there are better locations for a new YMCA. The committee has circulated petitions, established a Web site — — and is sponsoring three public meetings over the next month in an effort to generate support and persuade city council to put a YMCA elsewhere.

        The first meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. today at Loveland Intermediate School on Loveland-Madeira Road. The other two meeting dates aren't set yet, said Chris Lohrmann, of Miami Township, who will help moderate tonight's meeting.

        “We have two goals,” Mr. Lohrmann said. “One is to promote citizen participation in a discussion of what recreational facilities the citizens of greater Loveland would like to see developed. The second is to see how Phillips Park can be saved and enhanced.”

        City officials have been exploring the possibility of building a recreation center since 1990, City Manager Mark Fitzgerald said. Various sites have been studied, he said.

        “We are now at the point where decisions have to be made as to who is going to operate it and where it is going to be placed,” Mr. Fitzgerald. “Everybody concurs that there is a need. When you get down to specifics, there's always somebody who doesn't want it in their back yard.”

        Mr. Lohrmann said one study recommended a site at the intersection of Wards Corner Road and Interstate 275.But wherever it's built, it shouldn't be at Phillips Park, he said.

        “We don't think that it's an appropriate use of public park land,” he said. “There aren't enough fields now, and there isn't enough parking either. We want to see the park saved and enhanced.”

        The committee's Web site had recorded 477 “hits” as of Tuesday morning, and more than 400 people had signed petitions, said Elizabeth Murphy, who lives on Fallis Road and supports the committee's efforts.

        “We think we can have a good outcome,” she said. “We feel that there is a good solution out there if the process gets opened up and it works right.”


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