Whatever happened to that YMCA project in Audubon? Lower Providence Township residents may remember that it was all the talk of the town for the past several summers, and then what?
At the request of readers, The Alternative Press of Lower Providence (LP TAP) dug a little deeper to find out where the project stands.
Colleen Eckman, chairwoman for the Lower Providence Township Board of Supervisors, said it has been a topic of discussion at recent Business Development Committee meetings, organized by the township. As the committee itself begins to more formally organize, the Y is one of its top concerns.
"I met with the business development committee,” said Eckman. “We are trying to meet regularly, we were a little lax last year, and so we are starting to meet much more regularly.”
She noted that, besides the Park Pointe business complex, the Y is of top concern.
"One of the main things we continue to discuss is the YMCA project,” she said. Unfortunately, Eckman said, the matter is now the private business of two companies, and less in the control of the township’s government directly. Still, the board is trying its best to encourage a project that stands to benefit its residents greatly.
“The township is facilitating discussions between the Y and the Audubon Land Development,” she said. “From what we understand, those discussions are ongoing. It is a potential project between two private businesses, so the township is trying to facilitate that and do anything we can to help them through that process.”
Omoiye O. Kinney, vice president of Marketing and Communications for the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA organization, said that the Audubon Y still hopes to find a new home but has not yet found a resolution in the area.
“There has been no progress or meetings for the last month or two now,” said Kinney. “We still hope that it can happen.”
At the YMCA’s last attempt to find a location, the involved townships did not grant necessary approvals. Prior discussed locations included the former Markely Farms land and space around The Club at Shannondell complex.
According to a report in the Times Herald it was back in March 2012 that the board in West Norriton Township refused to allow a zoning hearing to allow the Y to purchase the farmland for $3 million.
The then proposal would have brought a new, 85,000-square-foot facility with three indoor pools, a gymnasium, indoor track, fitness room, locker rooms and child-care rooms, in addition to three new outdoor pools to the 56-acre space. The township’s board cited open space and traffic concerns as reasons for its refusal.
Ideas to expand into Lower Providence Township have not been formalized.
“We are still hopeful,” said Kinney. “We’ll keep looking. We want there to be a brand new YMCA facility. We just have had no luck finding a location that works for all involved.”
The Audubon Land Development Corp. did not return calls from LP TAP. At this time, no specific space is being discussed for a new location, according to Kinney, though the Y remains open to the idea and continues to search for “a space that fits.”