Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

South county YMCA in the works

GIBSONTON — Noelle Montoya is thrilled her days of driving long distances to enjoy the YMCA may soon be over.

Tampa YMCA officials unveiled detailed plans for a YMCA branch in south county and said some pieces of the project could be finished as early as April 2015. YMCA officials said a proposed agreement with Hillsborough County will be reviewed by county commissioners Aug. 7.

"I want a facility here. Like tomorrow," said Montoya, who lives in Riverview. "It would be perfect for us."

Montoya, 31, said she drives 30 to 45 minutes to visit YMCA branches in Valrico and Brandon. She and about 80 other people listened to the plans for the proposed YMCA in south county during a July 23 public meeting at East Bay High School.

Montoya said her children swim at the Campo YMCA in Valrico and take gymnastics classes at the Brandon YMCA. She said the southern part of the county is booming with residents and deserves a branch.

"Everyone I know in this area would be at the Y," she said. "If they build the Y, people will be there."

Not everyone backed the proposed YMCA near Vance Vogel Park.

Many said the branch should be farther south to be more centralized to residents in Ruskin and Wimauma. Some worried about the traffic the facility would create on already clogged roads. One said the area is prone to flooding. Another begged officials to enclose the pool so it could be used in bad weather.

One longtime opponent to the project said a YMCA branch would be better placed several miles to the south.

Mary Beth Sultenfuss, owner of the Apollo Beach Racquet & Fitness Club, said 40 businesses, such as health clubs, day care centers and karate schools, would be hurt by the YMCA branch at its current location. She also said that the land should instead be sold to private groups and turned into tax dollars for Hillsborough County.

"My concern is not the Y," she said. "My concern is this location. Thirty-eight acres of prime real estate."

Tom Looby, chief executive officer of the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA, said residents polled wanted the facility on Big Bend Road, between Interstate 75 and U.S. 301. He addressed many of the concerns and also asked people to fill out comment sheets.

The county has pledged $2 million of the estimated $3.5 million needed to finish the first phase of the project at Bullfrog Creek and Old Big Bend Roads. The YMCA is proposing the first phase house three multipurpose athletic fields, an outdoor basketball court with a roof, pavilion, restrooms and playground.

Subsequent plans include two more athletic fields, a second covered basketball court, a building and aquatics center.

The YMCA is working to raise money for the other phases, which would cost about $6 million.

Kim Leach of Riverview said she is looking forward to a YMCA branch near her home. She now visits the YMCA branch in Valrico, the closest one, with her 6-year-old son and infant foster daughter.

"I'm a big fan of the Y," she told YMCA and county officials.

Monica Bennett can be reached at

South county YMCA in the works 07/26/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 26, 2013 1:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Editorial: Making tax increases harder would sentence Florida to mediocrity


    Florida has one of the lowest state tax burdens in the nation, a long list of unmet needs and a Republican-controlled state government that treats any talk of a tax increase as heresy. Yet Gov. Rick Scott wants voters to approve a constitutional amendment to make it even harder for the Legislature to raise taxes. That's …

    Gov. Rick Scott wants voters to approve a constitutional amendment to make it even harder for the Legislature to raise taxes. That’s election-year pandering, not leadership.
  2. What happens if you look at the eclipse without glasses? Want a hole in your vision?


    It's the burning question of the week.

    The solar eclipse Monday will be quite the Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson moment for Americans to share. The idea is to walk away without frying your eyeballs.

    Colton Hammer tries out his new eclipse glasses he just bought from the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City on Wednesday in preparation for the eclipse on Monday. [Scott G Winterton | Deseret News via AP]
  3. Waterspout forms between Caladesi and Dunedin


    A waterspout formed between Caladesi Island and Dunedin earlier today.

    A waterspout formed between Caladesi Island and Dunedin. [Photo via YouTube]
  4. Contractor sues Tampa over troubled Watrous Canal repair project

    Local Government

    TAMPA — City Hall is being sued by the company it hired for a $3.2 million canal-repair project that ran into problems, plaguing neighborhoods along West Shore Boulevard with road closures and traffic delays even as its cost rose by 45 percent.

    A project to repair and improve the Watrous Canal closed West Shore Boulevard last year and is now the subject of a lawsuit between the contractor, Pac Comm of Miami, and the city of Tampa. CHRIS URSO   |   Times (2016)

  5. Salvation Army, Red Cross, Susan G. Komen abandon Trump's Mar-a-Lago


    The Salvation Army, the American Red Cross and Susan G. Komen on Friday joined a growing exodus of organizations canceling plans to hold fundraising events at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, deepening the financial impact to President Donald Trump's private business amid furor over his comments on Charlottesville.

    A Secret Service agent stands at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach in April. [Doug Mills | New York Times]