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FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWS | PLACENTIA

Neighbors Fear Losing in 'Win-Win' Deal for YMCA, Church

March 17, 1998|DEBRA CANO

After 24 years of providing programs in Placentia and Yorba Linda, the local YMCA has been offered a heavenly gift: A church is willing to let the organization build a facility on its Valencia Avenue property.

But not everyone is rejoicing.

Last week, Placentia United Methodist Church and Yorba Linda-Placentia YMCA officials held a meeting about the idea with the church's neighbors, who voiced opposition. Residents said that a Y facility would cause more traffic and noise, affect property values and invade their privacy, among other concerns.

"Overwhelmingly, [residents] said they love the Y, they just don't want it in their backyard," said Eric Boyd, YMCA executive director.

Alan Grotz, who has lived next to the church for 22 years, agreed. "It wouldn't make good sense to put it here . . . in the middle of houses," he said.

Grotz has gathered 250 signatures from neighbors on a petition protesting the proposal.

The YMCA operates out of a small office in Yorba Linda and offers its programs at various sites within the two communities--from school fields for sports to backyard pools for swimming lessons.

Officials were hoping for a facility that would provide meeting and game rooms, a gym and possibly an indoor swimming pool.

Church officials will meet April 1 to discuss whether to move forward with a development plan.

"We're not sure whether or not we're going to proceed," said the church's pastor, Glenn Miller. "If we do proceed, we did hear their concerns and we would want to address them in the plans."

Miller added that the residents' comments are "certainly going to shape the direction we're going to go."

It was Miller's idea to invite the YMCA onto church property as a way of not only supporting the community but helping the church's mission to reach out to more families.

"Obviously, we would benefit by having access to the building on Sundays, running joint programs, and our youth would have access," Miller said. "We would get a facility without having to pay for it, and they would get a place to put it. It was a win-win situation."

While the YMCA would not have to pay for the use of the church land should the plan move ahead, the organization would still have to raise between $3 million and $5 million to build a facility, Boyd said. It would take several years before the facility could open.

"Our hope now is the church's offer to build on the land still stands," he said. "The second hope is that the Lord will show us the way to make it happen."

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