Plans remain in place to build Delaware County's third YMCA at Evans Farm, but the project is at least two years from fruition.
Evans Farm is a 1,250-acre mixed-use development north of Lewis Center Road in Orange and Berlin townships that began construction in late 2017.
The development has drawn attention for its New Urbanism design that emphasizes walkability and a variety of housing types mixed with businesses.
In mid-2017, YMCA officials and Daniel Griffin and Tony Eyerman, partners in Evans Farm Land Development Co., announced plans to build a new YMCA facility on 8 to 10 acres within the development.
At the time, the YMCA planned to begin fundraising in 2018 for construction of the building. But Matt Bruns, executive director of development for the YMCA of Central Ohio, said the project has advanced little since then.
Bruns said he doesn't have a timeline or cost estimate beyond "ballparks" but said the plan still is moving forward. He said the YMCA of Central Ohio still is "excited about the project" and soon will be ready to begin tackling the financial side.
"I'm hopeful that happens in 2019," he said. "I think we're in a position for that to happen this year."
The location would be Delaware County's third YMCA, joining those in Delaware and Liberty Township, and area officials have been cognizant of a need for another facility for some time. Eyerman said Evans Farm leaders were aware of a study showing that need early in the process, which helped inform their decision to offer the land.
"As we got involved with Evans Farm, the Y approached us," he said. "But we were aware of the history of this whole area and the study that identified the need, so it made pretty good sense that we could help the community in reaching that."
The YMCA isn't the only planned recreational facility within Evans Farm.
Plans are in progress to build Project Grand Slam, a privately funded $20 million complex containing six tournament-style baseball diamonds with artificial turf, an indoor arena with stadium seating and a variety of amenities for various sports, including baseball, football, lacrosse, soccer and track and field.
Eyerman said those facilities wouldn't affect the YMCA's status.
"We're looking over both uses and making sure they're both compatible," he said. "There's no overlap, or as minimal of overlap as we can possibly get to. I think both parties are very cooperative, and we're seeing no problems at all."
Bruns agreed, adding the YMCA and Project Grand Slam provide far different amenities.
"We want to make sure we're not duplicating efforts," he said. "(Doing so) is not going to do either one of us any good, and it's not going to be beneficial for the community."
Although the land for the proposed building would be provided by Evans Farm, the construction itself would have to be financed by the YMCA.
Bruns said the organization is looking into "all kinds of avenues" for that funding and said the organization would need to get help from residents in nearby communities who have identified the need for the facility.
"We are a not-for-profit, so how we would make it work is certainly with community support," he said. "It's just getting out there and letting people know what we're trying to do and what our importance in the community would be."
If that support comes, Bruns said, he thinks the facility could be a major community asset. But they'll need some help.
"A Y comes in to a community and can do wonderful things and have a great impact," he said, "but the community has got to be supportive to make it happen."
Those interested in making donations, assisting in fundraising or otherwise helping the YMCA efforts can email Bruns at firstname.lastname@example.org.