Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Rec center plans on hold

Florence must wait for Y to complete its own project

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        FLORENCE — City Council is taking a road trip to Ohio today to study aquatic and community centers, but it likely won't be able to use whatever information it finds for up to two years.

        That's how long it is expected to take the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati to build a $6.5 million facility at Boone Woods Park on Ky. 18 near Burlington. That means Boone County Fiscal Court wouldn't be able to purchase the Tri-City Y on Main Street in Florence and the Y's outdoor swimming pool on U.S. 42 in Union until 2003 and convert Tri-City into a community center.
[photo] Jenna Noll, 10, of Burlington, swims in the YMCA's outdoor pool in Union Tuesday.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |

Know intentions

        “We had no idea it would take that long,” Florence Mayor Diane Whalen said Tuesday. “That's fine, (but) until we know what they want to do and how much (the county) wants to spend, I withhold further comment until we know what their intentions are.”

        Boone County Fiscal Court announced earlier this month its intent to negotiate a deal with the YMCA that would allow the county to purchase the Tri-City and the Union pool. Before that, the county had seriously considered building a new state-of-the-art aquatic center of its own.

$17.5 million total

        Ron Chambless, senior vice president of operations at YMCA headquarters on Elm Street in downtown Cincinnati said it would take at least a year to build the new Y in Burlington. The YMCA board met Tuesday afternoon to discuss its three major capital construction projects — a new West End YMCA in Cincinnati; a Northeast YMCA near Loveland and the Boone County project. The three projects, as planned, would cost a total of $17.5 million. A fund-raising campaign is under way and has raised about $11 million.

        As the Y and the county work on their plans, Ms. Whalen and several council members are visiting recreation centers in five Ohio cities — Kettering, located near Dayton, and four in Hamilton County, Springdale, Sharonville, Evendale and Blue Ash. The purpose: to find out what kinds of services are offered at aquatic and community centers and how they are financed.

        “Council has an interest in what's out there in recreation and aquatic centers,” Ms. Whalen said. “They wanted to see what services an aquatic center offers.”

No matter how long

        Florence City Councilman Mel Carroll stuck with his earlier stand — that Florence deserves a facility as good as anything else in Boone County, no matter how long it takes.

   Five Northern Kentucky swimming pools commonly used for swim meets and competitions, and their dimensions:
   • Scott High School, 5400 Old Taylor Mill Road, Taylor Mill: indoor pool, 75 feet long, nearly 40 feet wide.
    • Silverlake Recreation Center, 301 Kenton Lands Road, Erlanger: indoor pool, 50 meters (about 62 yards) long, 25 yards wide.
   • Tri-City YMCA, 212 Main St. Florence: indoor, 75 feet long, 35 feet wide; plus a 25-meter outdoor pool.
   • Union YMCA, 10165 U.S. 42: 75 feet long, 40 feet wide.
        The Tri-City Y is 35 years old. The Union pool, formerly a private swim club, was purchased by the YMCA 11 years ago.

        Boone County Administrator James Parsons said negotiations between the Y and the county would begin within two weeks. Mr. Chambless said that process would likely last most of the summer.

        The Y in Burlington is one of three being planned for Greater Cincinnati. The others are at an undetermined location in Cincinnati's West End and in Phillips Park near Rich and Fallis roads in Loveland.

        The Burlington Y would have nearly 40,000 square feet of space, including room for an indoor and outdoor swimming pool.

        Tri-City has two pools, a 25-yard indoor and 25-meter outdoor. The Union pool is also 25 yards long.

        An indoor facility at Scott High School in Taylor Mill, where the Northern Kentucky regional high school swimming and diving meets are held each February, is 25 yards long. By comparison, Silverlake Recreation Center on Kenton Lands Road in Erlanger has Northern Kentucky's only Olympic-length 50-meter pool.

        County officials have said the outdoor pools in Burlington and Union and both at Tri-City would be open to county residents, while YMCA membership would be required for the Burlington indoor facility.

        Mr. Chambless said negotiations with the county have postponed YMCA plans to spend nearly $1 million for a new gymnasium at Tri-City. He said no improvements were planned for the Union pool.

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