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Rendering (Image courtesy of the City of University Park.)

The Park Cities YMCA, which is a well-known community center in University Park, is looking to expand its facilities, but the project has been met with opposition from some local residents because of the proposed size, which could create more traffic issues in the area.

Representatives for The Y filed plans with the City of University Park in February to rebuild the current building, which is about 30,000 square feet, to a size of about 65,000 square feet. The new facility would have a variety of amenities, including a fitness area, two pools, a gymnasium and classroom space. The facility would also have an underground parking garage with about 300 spots.

Last week, the University Park Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing about the proposed project, which attracted a full house and lasted for nearly three hours. During the hearing, representatives for the Park Cities YMCA and local residents discussed and voiced opinions for and against the project.

At the meeting, John Bunten, a former board member for the Park Cities YMCA and current University Park resident, said The Y’s present facility does not adequately meet the demands of the community.

Bunten said The Y has over 12,000 members, averages “20,000 adult visits per month” and has a number of children’s activities that serve youth throughout the area.

“We are the community center for both the City of University Park and the Town of Highland Park,” Bunten said.

Some Park Cities residents, including people who live in neighborhoods near The Y, think the proposed facility is too large and will increase traffic congestion and parking issues in the area.

Tom Black, a University Park resident who spoke on behalf of the West of Preston Neighborhood Association, said he is not opposed to upgrading to The Y's facility, but the proposed project should not be approved in its current form.

Black said the proposed size of the building will create additional traffic and parking problems in the area, despite the inclusion of an underground garage, and more research needs to be done about the potential increase in traffic-related issues.

“We want (the facility) to be newer and better,” Black said. “But that doesn't mean without the proper consideration and due diligence in investigating how to make it newer and better.”

The University Park Planning and Zoning Commission will continue its hearing about the project at a meeting next month.