On Tuesday night, Aug. 9, at the , West Norriton residents made it abundantly clear that they want no part of the creation of a YMCA on the Markley Farms tract.
"I personally checked with the neighbors, and we're not in favor of a YMCA in the back of our houses," said Dominic DeAstero, a resident whose property runs into Markley Farms, later adding, "This is a residential neighborhood. That property has been zoned residential. We do not want to see a commercial enterprise in a residential neighborhood."
Prior to the public comments, West Norriton Solicitor Bob Kerns made it clear that no action would be taken by council during the meeting.
"There is no board action tonight, at all," said Kerns, who added that the YMCA would have to file a petition to re-zone the tract.
When the petition is filed, the board would have to make a decision as to whether or not to have a hearing regarding the potential re-zoning, though approving the hearing does not equate to approving the re-zoning request.
"This is a legislative process whether or not the property gets rezoned," said Kerns. "If the board decides that it does not want to go ahead with that hearing, the process ends, and the proposal dies at that stage. If the board goes ahead with the hearing and decides in favor, then it would be rezoned to allow the YMCA, and only the YMCA, to do what it wants to do on that site."
Once the groundwork for the meeting was laid out, Jay Schaeffer, president of the Freedom Valley YMCA, expressed his desire to build the YMCA, and spoke of the benefits the facility could offer the community.
“We have had requests over the years for a first-class facility that would meet the needs of every member of the family,” said Schaeffer.
Architect George Marks than displayed a presentation outlining the proposed 85,000-square-foot facility, which would include several pools and a fitness center, along with other amenities.
Despite the optimistic presentation, concerns about privacy, safety and traffic had residents lining up to tee-off on the would-be YMCA.
"We don't want our property encroached on," said one woman, who stated her property also ran into the tract. "We don't want it open for public access. I don't want to have to worry about someone walking across my property to get to Wagon Mill Road because they're walking to the YMCA."
Other residents followed suit, though Carl Fox chose a more diplomatic approach.
"If I were to live in the area and had an open space, I would want it to remain an open space; however, that's not going to be," said Fox. "I would much prefer a YMCA to Section 8 housing, or a halfway house, or anything like that."
If the formal re-zoning hearing is scheduled, residents will be invited to attend to publicly address their issues and concerns.
Missed the meeting? Check out our video recap!