Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Opposition mounts tonight against Loveland YMCA

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LOVELAND — If the group calling itself Save Phillips Park loses in tonight's stand against the city, its next step to halt a proposed $5 million YMCA may be in a courtroom.

        The Board of Zoning Appeals will meet at 5:30 p.m. today to consider the group's request to reverse the planning commission's approval of a conditional-use permit allowing construction.

        City administrators are recommending that the zoning appeals board stand by the commissioners' decision.

        If that happens, “we'll be in Common Pleas Court within 30 days,” said Paul Elliott, one of Save Phillips Park's members.

        Loveland lies in Hamilton, Clermont and Warren counties, leaving the group still to decide which county court they must appeal to. Members say they're willing to sue if their appeal isn't resolved to their liking.

        “The evidence presented through the entire process indicates that the Y does not belong in that location,” Mr. Elliott said. “It was (the zoning appeals board's) job to sift through that mountain of evidence and see that was the case.

        “It's not a community recreation center. It's a private — albeit nonprofit — business that does not qualify to be in that area. So many of Loveland's residents would not be able to afford (the YMCA's) dues and fees.”

        Phillips Park — on Rich Road, north of West Loveland Avenue — consists primarily of baseball/softball diamonds and soccer fields. The YMCA would like to build a one-story, 37,000-square-foot facility on 8 acres of park property, which the city would lease to the YMCA at no cost.

        The Y would charge about $700 in annual fees. But full and partial scholarships would be available.


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