Park Cities YMCA Receives Council’s Approval

In what seemed to have been a shocker to both sides, University Park City Council unanimously decided to approve the YMCA’s request to build its new structure.

For those following along at home, last meeting the council postponed their decision on the Y’s counter-proposal of 57,200 square feet for more review.

The council asked for a reduction from 65,000 to 52,000  and the Y responded with their own 52,000 square foot plan that would have an additional 10 percent of non-activity space that pushes the maximum square footage to 57,200.

It seems the council liked the changes they made as they voted 5-0, now putting the pressure on how the square footage will be drawn into the renovation.

Read more in this week’s Park Cities People.

Feel free to make the jump for some of the council’s commentary before the vote:

– Councilmember Tommy Stewart said.

“It was a tough decision for all of us. We studied this issue hard. It’s one that has effected the community in many ways. I just hope whatever the outcome is that we all pull together for the betterment of the community and its citizens.”

-Councilmember Robert Clark.

“The decision to proceed or not on this project is solely on the Y. They have the right to accept or reject our decision. If they decide to proceed, the parking will be off-street and on-site underground. And the neighborhood will benefit greatly by that. It will be an enormous improvement in the quality of the neighborhood and the value of the neighborhood around the Y.”

“The size of the building I know has been an enormous issue. However, looking at a building of this size, whether it has 10 percent more non-activity space or not, I do not believe, and I would challenge anyone to notice the difference. It will not generate more traffic, and therefore I think this is the right thing to do and the best thing to do for the city of University Park and certainly with the Y.”

– Counclimember Bob Begert

“Depending on how this vote turns out, I would hope that the YMCA will make it a primary objective to be a better neighbor. We have heard many things about how you have not been a good neighbor. However the vote comes out, I hope you take it to heart that these folks over here want you to be a better neighbor.”

By Andrew Plock Nov. 6, 2012 | 7:18 pm | 19 Comments | Comments RSS
  • Welcome response

    Time to move forward now that the counsel has made a hard but necessary decision. Let’s put the divisiveness behind us. There’s too much of that already!

  • T-Bone

    Maybe they can now install some security measures so everyone’s watch, purse & cell phones are no longer stolen. The place is a nasty geriatric ward.

  • anon

    The vote by the UP City Council last night to approve the request for additional space for the YMCA placed all the City council members in a very negative light. Last month, after many hours of debate and argument from both the Y and the residents most affected by this project the Council voted to grant the YMCA 52,000 sf for the new facility. This was still larger than the residents had hoped but we sucked it up and accepted and respected the City’s decision!
    However, the Y in their continued deviousness put in an additional application to the City to have that increased by another 10%. This reinforces what the residents have always felt in that the Y is operating as a business and cares nothing about being a good neighbor.
    Last night’s vote exposed the weakness of the Council in not sticking to its original decision. They merely yielded to the pressures of the Y with total disregard to their taxpaying residents for whom they represent.
    A pathetic and disappointing performance on all counts.

  • Welcome response

    Taxpayers reside in all areas of the city, not just those living near the Y. The council represents all the citizens. How about moving forward positively rather than continuing the negative?

  • Love my Neighbors

    @Welcome reponse – it’s true that the City Council represents all of UP’s citizens, but the matter of commercial development encroaching into our neighborhoods is an issue that impacts all of us. The next commercial development project might be down the street from your house. As homeowners we should be asking our Council to preserve those things that make our city so unique – neighborhoods with lovely homes, safe streets and lots of green space. There are many places for non-taxpaying enterprises to be located outside our city limits that will be convenient to UP homeowners/taxpayers.

  • PC Observer

    Saying they Y is a commercial use is an example of the unfortunate hyperbole and exaggeration that has characterized much of the opposition.

    The Y is NOT a commercial use:
    1) Based a legal perspective: It’s a charitable non-profit, not a commercial venture. I think you’ll find it’s registered under the tax code as such, and meets all the rigorous legal, financial and tax parameters that go with that.
    2) Based on its program model: Like most non-profits, the Y offers a range of programs and services, some of which are free, and some of which require a minimal fees to recoup costs. It is not unlike the City of UP Pool, numerous pre-schools, charitable daycares, Boy Scout troops, churches and the like which do the same. That what program-based, charitable organizations do. For example, UP Methodist has a daycare with an enrollment of 330 and as staff of 40 that runs 5 days a week. Does anyone consider them a commercial use?
    3) Based on the UP Zoning Ordinance: The Y is officially categorized as “Community Center”, which is listed in the “Educational, Institutional or Special Use” section of the UP Zoning Ordinance. Many commercial uses are listed elsewhere, but it is not grouped with those.

    The reality is that the Y’s original request was supported by 5 separate traffic studies and every single relevant UP planning precedent. Thank goodness the Council relied on those and the many other relevant facts in making their decision. IMO, that’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

  • XT

    @PC Observer,

    So, if the Y is not a commercial use (technically correct), and is a charitable, non-profit venture, why would they want to grow so large, despite much residential opposition? I’ve lived here a long time, and we use the Y, I’ve never heard a lot of complaints that the Y needs to be much bigger.

    And for the record, I don’t live near the Y, nor do I live near HP Pres, and so I’m not really up in arms about these issues. And I will benefit from a bigger Y. See how that works?

    @ Welcome Response, easy for you to tell everyone who opposed this to move on, you won.

  • Avid Reader

    The Y is obviously more concerned about their commercial interests.

  • Welcome Response

    SO Easy nowadays to put everything into winners vs.losers, taxpayers vs. non-taxpayers, commercial vs. residential, us vs. them.

    Decisions are made all the time -there will always be some hard feelings when things don’t go our way.

    I don’t recall my indicating being for or against – just pointing out that I was glad a decision was finally made that the Council pointed out that,in their judgment, reflected the higher good of the community in general.

    Most of us don’t like change, but it’s inevitable. I’m learning to focus on what good will come out of a decision I may not have agreed with.

  • bm

    Why don’t anon & Love my Neighbors run for city council?

  • Super Scot

    So the council lets the Y get away with tricks that any other developer could not. An extra 10% accessory space below ground frees up 10% more space above ground that will allow the Y to add programming and generate more traffic. Councilman Clark: You caved and we do notice the difference.

  • Pete Foster

    After living in University Park for almost 25 years, I’m glad that this matter has come to something of a resolution. I also have to admit I’m glad it was resolved in the way that it was. Our Y is one of our communities’ treasures. It serves many, many thousands of our citizens and thousands of our kids. So many families over the years have benefited from this institution that the good it’s done can’t even begin to be measured. From campouts in Indian Guides and Princesses, to soccer, football, softball, basketball, track and basketball for our kids, to the Champs programs for our handicapped citizens, to the rehab programs for the schools, to the seniors programs including Aquatics, to the swimming, CPR and first aid programs – and I’m just getting going – the Y has been our community center for nearly 80 years.
    So the Council decided for the good of the vast majority of our citizens. But the neighborhood will be vastly improved in several ways. First, the biggest complaint of the neighbors, the parking and traffic will be largely eliminated thanks to the million dollar underground parking facility the Y has proposed. You could double the activity at the Y and the traffic problem would still be eliminated thanks to this investment. Second, the auto break-ins that make up the crime in the neighborhood will be eliminated. I can’t imagine many folks breaking into a car in the new underground parking facility – there will be no escape for a robber. Finally, while the Y is a landmark, it’s gotten a bit long in the tooth, and the new facility will improve the looks of the neighborhood while keeping the character of the old building.
    So while there are two sides to every story, I believe the Council served the greater good in this case, and, my hat is off to them for doing so.

  • Pete Foster

    One last point. While the Park Cities Y is certainly part of the Metropolitan YMCA, ours is a rather unique branch. Our Y is really the people around you in the community. While there is a professional staff at the building, many of the jobs there are done by parents and neighbors who volunteer there. The PC-Y Adivsory Board really has a lot of input into this Y. There must be literally hundreds of Dads and Moms that run the sports program and are coaches, dozens of parents who are the Big Chiefs of there Adventure (Indian) Guide groups, hundreds of neighbors who participate in the Partners Campaign and probably many more that I can’t even think of right now. My point is that this isn’t some big company that asked the community government to build this building, it’s US!. Just look at who has been working on the committee to try to build this new facility – almost all local folks. Heck, just look at who has showed up at the City Council meetings to ask for this facility – local folks who really give a darn about our community. This isn’t Walmart, and this isn’t a way to make a gazillion more dollars for some faceless shareholders. This new facility is a way for the Y to serve US better…So enought about the Y being some evil “thing”, you guys. It is US. We -the UP and HP community – that asked our city leaders to build this new facility.
    After listening to the Y’s “neighbors” and reading some of the comments here, I’d like to echo Councilmember Bob Begert’s words as if he turned his head to the other side of the room. “I hope you take it to heart that these folks over here want you to be a better neighbor.” Time for the “No, birds” to be good neighbors to the many, many community members that make up the Park City YMCA.

  • bm

    Up next “the old Chase Bank building”

  • Avid Reader

    The council massively caved. They got sick of dealing with the two sides and figured they could just slide this through and move on down the road. They have done it before and they will do it again. The only reason they haven’t caved on the Chase building is because of their animosity towards the actual owner of the building.

  • Another Mother

    I wholeheartedly agree with Pete Foster.

  • PC Observer

    I wholeheartedly agree with Pete Foster.

  • jb

    I agree with Pete Foster.

    If you choose to purchase a home near a busy street like Preston or Mockingbird, or near a busy institution like SMU, then yes, you will be at higher risk of a “commercial development” expanding or locating near you.

  • Bill Woodall

    I grew up on Shannon Lane very close to the Y and some of my greatest memories are there, from learning to swim in the pool, playing t-ball on the fields, walking by everyday on my way home from Bradfield and stopping to get a slushy with my friends, working on various eagle scout projects there, I’m happy there is a plan to update the facility.

    When I came home from serving in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan I noticed that the majority of the Park Cities had a major face lift, I barely recognized the whole city, but not the old Y. Except for a new sign it seemed untouched.

    In my life I’ve noticed that change seems to ruffle feathers and this issue seems to be a passionate one, I’m glad a decision was made and lacking a more elaborate response think that as a whole the plan will continue to benefit the community greatly.

    Hopefully those who disagree with the outcome can agree that the Y is a great part of our community and it is important to maintain those organizations that bring us together.

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