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VALLEY FOCUS | Northridge

Hurdles Bar YMCA's Path to New Facility

January 09, 1998|SYLVIA L. OLIANDE

A city bureaucratic snafu was only one of the problems the North Valley Family YMCA has had to face in its efforts to move into a new home in Northridge.

YMCA officials said negotiations to sell the current property and raise the millions of dollars necessary to complete the project proved more problematic than originally thought, and the facility is not expected to open until late this year or early next.

"We're all anxious to open," said Jane Stanton, executive director of the North Valley YMCA. "But people understand how hard it is to raise $6.5 million." The project's capital campaign, which began in 1994, is $400,000 from its goal, she said.

When the 30,000-square-foot building on Corbin Avenue is complete, it will include an indoor pool, locker rooms, exercise rooms, aerobics studios and a child-care center.

City officials said the zoning problem cropped up after a city employee misclassified the entire lot as open space during a regular administrative review of the Mission Hills-Panorama City-North Hills Community Plan.

The misunderstanding grew out of the YMCA's donation of the Pico Adobe to the city in the late 1960s. Although the adobe and adjacent park should have been classified as open space, the YMCA facility should not have, officials said.

Greig Smith, chief deputy for Councilman Hal Bernson, who represents the area, said when the organization went to sell the property, the classification put the escrow in jeopardy.

"So in return for their generosity, we screwed them up," Smith said. The City Council rectified the problem Wednesday, and the land can now be sold.

But Stanton said the zoning problem had no significant bearing on the delay. She said escrow is set to close soon on the sale of the land to a church.

The YMCA will continue operations after the sale is complete by leasing a portion of the old site until the new facility is ready, she said.

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