Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

Gibsonton Y to start with court, fields, but will need donations for building

GIBSONTON — A YMCA branch will sprout from the dirt here initially in the form of sports fields and a basketball court.

The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA wants to put a pool and branch building on the site, too, but bringing that vision to fruition will require a successful capital campaign in a recovering economy.

Soccer and basketball enthusiasts can begin their countdown because the first phase of the project should be finished in the fall. In addition to a covered basketball court and multipurpose fields for soccer and other sports, the project includes a playground, picnic pavilion, parking and drainage improvements.

"We're very, very excited," said Tom Looby, the Y's president and CEO. "It's been our ambition to serve this community."

The Y put in $1.5 million and received $2 million from Hillsborough County to cover the costs of the first phase. The branch is also being built on county-owned land, which saved the Y thousands in land acquisition.

YMCA officials, joined by county commissioners and local leaders, will meet Tuesday to kick off the project with a private ceremonial groundbreaking at the branch's 40-acre site at Old Big Bend and Bullfrog Creek roads.

The Y will contribute money to build the pool and branch building, but will need financial support from the community to complete them. Y officials are working to nail down the final costs and timeline.

"It will depend on our internal success for the fundraising," said Cindy Sofarelli, a senior group vice president for the Y.

The Y is working to put together a team of volunteers and staffers to help with the fundraising campaign. They will seek donations from families, companies and foundations.

"It's all about relationship building," Sofarelli said. "That's the key."

Looby said the organization aims to raise $2.5 million, but he called that number a rough estimate. He had hoped to be further along with the project but pointed to the country's economic slump in the past few years. He is confident construction on the pool and new branch building will start in the near future.

Sofarelli said the Y has had successful capital campaigns in the past because people understand its mission.

The Y, of course, appeals to people from young children to seniors. It offers exercise, sports programs, swimming, camps and wellness support but also has branched into educational areas, such as helping with the Teen Achievers program at Eisenhower Middle School in Gibsonton.

Talking about what staffers do and who they help inspires donations, Sofarelli said.

"The way we do it is to share our story," she said.

The road to the new branch hasn't been without controversy. Some have said the facility should have been placed farther south. Others fear that the Y will hurt established fitness centers, swimming programs and child care centers.

"I don't think we'll come in and close shop," Sofarelli said. "We're really trying to be good neighbors. We're a community organization."

Sofarelli and Looby think the branch is in a perfect spot, near I-75 and between U.S. 301 and 41.

Sofarelli said interest and a community poll led to the location of the new branch. She said Y members who live in Riverview, Gibsonton, Ruskin and beyond have long complained about the drive to Y branches in Valrico and Brandon, 30 to 45 minutes away.

For now, the facility is called the Family Y at Big Bend Road. But it could be named after a donor, which is how the Campo Y in Valrico got its name.

The Big Bend Y will be the 19th facility in the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA system and the first new Y in 10 years.

Monica Bennett can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
V.M. Ybor: Thatís not cigar smoke youíre smelling

V.M. Ybor: Thatís not cigar smoke youíre smelling

TAMPA ó Across Interstate 4 from Ybor Cityís nightlife, another part of the historic neighborhood has an odor less nostalgic ó and much less pleasant ó than cigar smoke and roasting coffee beans.V.M. Ybor, named after the Spaniard who founded the cit...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Donald Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the presidentís call last summer for a ban on all transgender service, acc...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

After an emotionally draining day that captured national attention ó the massive rally in Tallahassee and a small, tearful gathering of survivors at the White House ó CNNís Wednesday night town hall on the Parkland shooting could have easily been ove...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

A St. Louis grand jury has indicted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on a felony invasion of privacy charge related to the Republicanís affair with a woman in 2015. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced the indictment Thursday. She launched an ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Douglas school cop who Ďnever went iní after Parkland shooting has resigned

Douglas school cop who Ďnever went iní after Parkland shooting has resigned

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said Thursday the school resource officer stationed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas was suspended without pay after he learned the deputy never went into the building when the shooting began.Scot Peterson chose to resign and ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Second stripper, same commissioner: Hernando County officialís home site of domestic dispute

Second stripper, same commissioner: Hernando County officialís home site of domestic dispute

SPRING HILL ó Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson is in the midst of another personal controversy that is reminiscent of his relationship several years ago with a stripper who used drugs.A couple who rents a room in Nicholsonís home got into ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trumpís club

Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trumpís club

Two weeks after President Donald Trump nominated Florida businessman Leandro Rizzuto Jr. to be ambassador to Barbados, Rizzuto pledged thousands of dollars to fund a gala at Trumpís Mar-a-Lago Club, the galaís organizer said.Rizzuto and his wife, Den...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nationís conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places ó South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington ó as survivors, victimsí families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

New charges were filed Thursday against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, ratcheting up the legal pressure on them as they prepare for a trial later this year.A new indictment has long been expected in special cou...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Administrator Haley Loeun fired from CareerSource jobs centers

Administrator Haley Loeun fired from CareerSource jobs centers

Haley Loeun, a top aide to the embattled leader of the Pinellas and Hillsborough jobs boards, was fired Thursday from her $130,000 position as business services director. Loeun came under criticism after the Tampa Bay Times reported that CareerSource...
Updated: 2 hours ago