Thursday, April 8, 2004

Approval likely for Deerfield Y

Townships discuss how to raise their share of the building fund

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DEERFIELD TWP. - Construction on an 80,000-square-foot YMCA here could start next year.

Deerfield Township trustees decided this week to discuss the issue at their April 23 and May 4 meetings. Meanwhile, neighboring Symmes Township is planning two public meetings in May to gauge residents' interest.

The center, a satellite of the Ralph J. Stolle Countryside Y in Lebanon, is being proposed for more than half of the 27-acre property that Deerfield owns between the Meijer store and Steeplechase apartments just over the Warren County line on Montgomery Road.

Countryside officials have already approved a letter of intent, and now its up to the townships to decide if the plan will move forward.

"It's needed in the area," Deerfield trustee Randy Kuvin said. "I think it will serve a population that is currently not being served by a community recreational facility."

Officials in both townships have been talking about building a joint recreational center for well over a year, after residents expressed interest in a community pool. At the same time, Deerfield officials were trying to lure a Y after plans to build one in nearby Loveland were dropped.

At a public meeting earlier this year, several residents voiced their support about the joint venture. A survey that was made public on Tuesday showed that 68 percent of 402 registered voters in Symmes Township called last month said they were in favor of a Y.

Should plans be approved, Countryside would likely pay about half of the center's $10 million price tag, which does not include land costs. About half of its contribution would come from a fund raising campaign, according to Countryside's letter of intent, and the rest from a tenant that would lease space in the building.

It's still unknown how the townships would divide the rest of the cost, but Kuvin said Deerfield's contribution of a $3.25 million site could play into the deal. He added that tax increment financing from other development could be one possible funding source.

Symmes Township will likely have to go to voters for the money. A levy could go on the ballot in November, Symmes Trustee Kathy Wagner said, and could be tied to a park levy that expires this year.

"A lot's going to hinge on what the people who come to these meetings say, and are they going to be interested in helping push a levy for the Y and support it," Wagner said.

Sheila McLaughlin contributed to this story. E-mail

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