The White Rock Y made these yard signs available at Tuesday night's meeting.

We learned recently of the White Rock YMCA’s plans to purchase the former Trinity Lutheran Church property on Gaston. Tuesday night at the Lakewood Hills Neighborhood Association quarterly meeting, Santos Martinez of Masterplan Consulting, and also the former chairman of the White Rock Y board, gave everyone present a glimpse of what the Y hopes to construct on the site. (We asked for renderings from the meeting, and were told that we should have them by the end of the week.)

Martinez mentioned that the Y was initially housed in the Parks House on Worth and Abrams, from 1958 until 1998 when it moved to its current location on Gaston near Garland Road. He pointed out that the White Rock Y has “never really had a place of our own.”

“We’ve tried as best we can to work with the spaces we’ve had for the last 50 years,” Martinez said, “but here’s a chance to really do something outstanding.”

The Y has tapped longtime neighborhood resident and architect Craig Reynolds, who designed the new wing at Woodrow, to formulate plans for a roughly 40,000-square-foot, two-story building that will encompass most of the existing church plus the front parking lot along Gaston and the current cut-through road between Gaston and Clayton. Find a few highlights from the presentation after the jump:

• It seems that a major appeal of this plan for neighbors is how it could affect the Far West nightclub, adjacent to the current Y. Neighbors asked about plans for the site if the Y sells, and Martinez said that YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas rather than the White Rock Y is handling that transactions, so he doesn’t know. He does know that “Far West has the same offer as we do,” and also that the prospective owner of the Y and Far West is “doing their due diligence” on the Y’s current building with asbestos testing and such, just as the Y is with the Trinity Lutheran Church building. In other words, the current White Rock Y/Far West building may come down if someone else buys it.

• Because of the prospective purchase, Martinez emphasized that the Y needs to secure zoning by May “or else the deal is not a deal anymore.” Because the land currently is zoned residential, the Y would need it rezoned to build a recreational facility. Martinez says they are asking for Planned Development (PD) zoning that would clearly state what and where the Y could build, including details such as an agreement to turn its sign off when the Y is closed.

• Martinez says the White Rock Y has the money to purchase the Trinity Lutheran property outright, and could roll money from the purchase of its current property into the new plans. The new White Rock Y facility would cost a projected $12 million, he says, and would hopefully be open by May 2014. Someone asked whether the neighborhood would be without a Y for a period of time, and Martinez said that ideally, the Y would close the current building on Friday and open the new building Saturday.

• City codes would require 215 parking spots on the property, but the Y is requesting a variance for 115 spots. Martinez showed informal traffic surveys of filled parking spaces at its current location during two weeks in September; the highest numbers of filled spots were 79 at 10 a.m., 44 at 2 p.m. and 57 at 6 p.m. The parking spaces would be placed along the south of the property next to the alley, and to the east abutting the apartment complex.

• The Y wants the new facility to be a “walkable” building. Martinez mentioned that many Lakewood Hills neighbors already had expressed their hopes to walk or bike to the new Y. Since the Santa Fe Trail will be 2.5 blocks away, Martinez mentioned the possibility of a bike lane between the trail and the Y, possibly even one that lead directly to the entrance. He noted that the plan is for at least 20 bicycle spaces, as well as interior space for stroller parking. One member of the audience suggested that the Y offer a pedestrian and cyclist discount, and Martinez seemed open to the idea.

• Martinez made clear that the Y’s goal is to preserve most of the existing green space and trees, and Reynolds says that he was told, “Whatever we do, we’re gonna protect the trees.” It was noted that the Red Oak close to Gaston is one of the oldest in the state.

• Neighbors present seemed to overwhelmingly approve of the Y’s plans. The one disagreement was over traffic. The Y plans to have two entrances, one on Gaston near the east end of the property, and one on Loving near the alley between Clayton and Casa Loma. A neighbor who lives right across from the proposed entrance expressed concern over the number of cars who would be driving by his property. According to the Y’s calculations, this kind of recreational building could generate roughly 450 cars per day, and on average, 14 an hour could pass through the Loving entrance. Another neighbor who supports the Y’s move argued that “the neighborhood is changing, and this is an amazing opportunity” — a comment that received thunderous applause. But later in the meeting, a couple of different people spoke up for the resident across from the Loving entrance, mentioning that this resident has been a good neighbor for three decades, and beseeching the Y to do whatever it can to alleviate the traffic. Martinez emphasized that “we don’t want to be a bad neighbor to anyone,” and mentioned they are working on engineering plans that, for example, would keep headlights from shining into his home. Someone else suggested that the Y should offer him a free membership.


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