Thursday, May 20, 2004

Trustees back Y partnership


Deerfield Twp. could be site of $11 million rec center

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DEERFIELD TWP. - Plans to build an $11 million satellite of the Ralph J. Stolle Countryside Y here are closer to reality after township trustees agreed to pursue the recreational partnership.

Trustees voted 2-1 Tuesday night to approve a modified letter of intent from the Lebanon recreational center, which will operate the satellite center. The letter is not a formal contract, but is the first official vote to show that Deerfield Township trustees are supporting the idea.

Trustee Lee Speidel voted against the proposal, saying he did not think that Countryside Y was providing enough of the funding. Countryside is expected to pay for about $5 million, with Symmes and Deerfield townships dividing the rest. Speidel said that if Countryside were to fund at least $8 million, he would reconsider the partnership.

"This is just the first of many steps," Countryside president Steve Boland said. "There's a long way to go."

The 80,000-square-foot center is going to be built on more than half the 27-acre property that Deerfield owns between the between the Meijer store and Steeplechase apartments on Montgomery Road.

Many residents in Symmes and Deerfield townships have said they like the idea of having a YMCA so close to home. But several have expressed concerns about using their tax dollars to fund the proposal.

"I see it as the cr╦me de la cr╦me of park projects," Deerfield Trustee Barbara Wilkens Reed said.

Deerfield trustees, who are eyeing seven different funding options, made only a few minor changes to the letter, including one that says that if Countryside raises more than $2.5 million during its fund-raising campaign, the center's base rent will go up by that difference.

More significantly, trustees established Nov. 15 as the day to verify all funding commitments. Trustee Randy Kuvin said it would be "difficult if not impossible" to fund the Y if Symmes does not pass a levy.

Symmes has until June 1 to decide if it will put a levy on the November ballot. Trustees will hold the first of two public hearings at 7 p.m. today at Symmes Elementary School on Enyart Road to hear whether residents want a YMCA and are willing to pay for it.

Sheila McLaughlin contributed to this report. E-mail esolvig@enquirer.com




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