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County Agrees To Purchase YMCA Property

County Agrees To Purchase YMCA Property

    First was the North Lake Regional Park, built in 2005 outside Umatilla.  In the years that followed, other large parks have been built around the county, and as of Tuesday, the Golden Triangle is set to receive its dose of high-end county recreation.
    The Lake County Commission on Tuesday voted to move ahead with plans to purchase the site of the Lake County YMCA, located at 1465 David Walker Road in Tavares, at a cost estimated at $4.8 million.  The move fulfills the county's desire to create a regional park in the area, dating back to its initial parks and trails master plan program nearly two decades ago.
    “After 18 years, we finally have the last piece of the puzzle,” said Bobby Bonilla, who directs the county’s parks and recreation efforts. 
    The county has been in discussion with the YMCA and the City of Tavares for the purchase of the property since at least last spring.  As executed Tuesday, the county will partner with the YMCA, City of Tavares, and AdventHealth Waterman to develop the lakefront site, which currently houses the YMCA’s ‘east’ campus as well as a large tract of vacant, lakefront land.
    The City of Tavares is expected to oversee the maintenance of the YMCA buildings at the site, and lease them back to the YMCA for its continued use.  The county will develop a series of recreational fields and courts, including a recreation complex that will include a senior center, a trailhead for the developing recreation trail that is planned for the area, as well as a ropes course, parking garage, bike park, and more.
    The vote was not unanimous, with commissioner Josh Blake voting in dissent.  Additionally, commissioners noted the purchase of the site will drain the county’s reserve fund down to 17%.
    “Bringing reserves down to 17% so early in this budget cycle is my only concern,” said Doug Shields, with Sean Parks agreeing that the move will require the commission to tread lightly in future matters that may require expenditures not already budgeted.
    “We’ll have to be really careful,” Parks said.
    Leslie Campione, while voicing support for the plan, pushed commissioners to remain aware of the focus of the site, as it is the first park that will also see a private partner operating at the location.
    “I want to make sure this is a facility that is readily accessible to all members of the community.”
    The park, loosely named the Golden Triangle Regional Park at this time, is expected to serve residents along the US 441 corridor in Mount Dora, Eustis, and Tavares.