Ligonier Valley YMCA moves forward with its expansion plans
A building along Wellington Alley was demolished Monday as part of the Ligonier Valley YMCA's expansion plans.
According to Ligonier YMCA Executive Director Ben Wright, the building was previously used for apartments. He said the Y acquired it in June 2012, as well as two North Market Street buildings — a pink house along North Market Street, which was previously a NAPA Auto Parts building, and a garage, which had not been used for many years. He said the two buildings will be demolished within the next week.
The YMCA hopes to convert the area where the buildings stood into a parking lot, Wright said.
In the rear part of the property, Wright said the YMCA hopes to add a green space containing trees, in an effort to create a buffer area for residents who live near the YMCA.
Wright said that while there are several residents who oppose the YMCA's proposed ordinance changes for various reasons, he hopes they realize the project is meant to benefit the community.
“I definitely understand their point of view,” Wright said. “It's change. I think that looking at the plans and continuing to see the YMCA's willingness to make amends, such as the green space and our willingness to give them any information if we have it — it shows we're not trying to come out against them. We're just trying to move the organization and the mission of health and wellness forward.”
The YMCA is securing gifts for the project from donors in the community, Wright said.
“We're having a lot of success with the donations, and we appreciate everybody's generosity,” Wright said. “I think people are really behind the project.”
The YMCA is also going through the process with Ligonier Borough Council to try to get two proposed ordinances approved so it can proceed with its site plans, which are:
1. To change the zoning on two properties from R-2 — two-family residential to C-2 — general commercial; and
2. To amend the zoning ordinance to allow surface parking lots as a conditional use in the C-2 — general commercial zoning district subject to the standards for conditional uses already in place.
Ligonier Borough Council will conduct a public hearing 7 p.m. Monday at Ligonier Town Hall to hear testimony for and against the proposed ordinances.
According to attorney Mark Sorice, who is representing the YMCA, the council will not have to make a decision the evening of the public hearing. He said the Pennsylvania Municipality Planning Code states council will have 45 days from the hearing to make a decision. If the council approves the proposed ordinances, it must publicly set forth findings of fact and rationale for the decision, he said.
If approved, he said the YMCA would have to apply for a building permit through council and have its site plans reviewed by the borough's engineers.
If it is not approved, Wright said the YMCA's board may look into other options.
Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.