GIBSONTON – Folks around South Shore have something to celebrate now that ground has been broken for the Phase I of the new South Shore YMCA. Barring unexpected weather events, five multipurpose fields, a playground, covered basketball court and picnic pavilion will soon be ready for use.
County, state and YMCA officials were among those attending a Jan. 21 private ceremony marking the beginning of the construction process. Within weeks things should start happening.
“All of phase one is funded and we anticipate having our youth and adult sports programs operational by the end of the year,” said Cindy Sofarelli, senior group vice president of the Tampa YMCA. “We’re excited because there’s so much excitement about the Y coming to South Shore. It’s going to be a huge asset to the community.”
“We will serve people of all ages – from the very young to the very old,” she said. “As our facilities come on board we’ll be offering Silver Sneakers at the new Y in addition to what’s being offered through our partnership with JSA in Sun City Center. We’ll also have programs for active older adults, empty nesters and the newly retired. There will be something for everyone.”
Sofarelli added there’s an organic nature to the Y’s programming.
“As we get into the community and hear more, our program plan can continue to evolve,” she said.
That’s good news for South Shore residents who have waited a long time for their own Y. A survey of 700 people commissioned by the Tampa YMCA in 2010 found broad support for building a facility in South Shore.
“This is the first, full-family YMCA in a decade, said Tom Looby, Tampa YMCA president and CEO. The last was built in Northwest Hillsborough County.
Looby said the Y’s programming mission includes the following priorities:
• Partnership with Hillsborough County Schools to close the academic achievement gap
• Prevention and management of chronic disease
• Teen development, including civic engagement, academic support and leadership opportunities
• Drowning prevention
Hillsborough County commissioners voted unanimously last August to authorize a long-term lease agreement between the county and the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA to build e construction of a new family facility on county-owned land next to Vance Vogel Park on Old Big Bend Road. Initially the lease is for 30 years with an option to renew.
As part of this public-private, joint-use lease agreement, Hillsborough County agreed to provide $2 million of the $3.5 million needed to complete phase one. The Tampa YMCA has raised the remaining $1.5 million.
The Tampa Y is responsible for the cost and construction of phase two, which will include an aquatics center, and phase three, a 30,000-square-foot “starter” facility, a main YMCA building that potentially could grow to 75,000 or 80,000 square feet. With about 40 acres of land, there’s certainly room to grow, Sofarelli said.
The total estimated cost of the current plan is $8.5 million, and depending on capital fundraising efforts, it is expected to be completely implemented in three to five years.
To make a donation specifically for the new South Shore YMCA – to be called the Family Y at Big Bend Road for now – call Jan Berry at (813) 224-9622, ext. 1268. That could change if a major donor requests naming rights, which was the case in the Campo YMCA in Valrico.
For more information about the YMCA, contact Lalita Llerena at (813) 224-9622, ext. 1240, or Lalita.Llerena@tampaymca.org.