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Pippy Park Commission endorses Y proposal

Sunday, January 21, 2007
Source: The Telegram (St. John's), p. A1

by Terry Roberts

The YMCA-YWCA of Northeast Avalon has overcome a major hurdle in its bid to construct a new facility in St. John's.

The Pippy Park Commission is recommending approval of a request by the Y for the lease of vacant property at the corner of Ridge Road and Higgins Line.

"We believe the Y, being the charitable organization that it is, will be good tenants in the park," said Ian Pippy, chairman of the Pippy Park Foundation.

The commission endorsed the Y's application during a meeting last week, but it's only one step in the overall approval process.

The commission's partners - the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the City of St. John's and Memorial University - must also sign off on the request.

The parties must also agree on a long-term lease for the property.

Pippy said the property is the last piece of serviced land in the park.

And since the commission's mandate is to provide a "land bank" for its partners, there are no guarantees that the recommendation will be accepted.

But Pippy has no problem supporting the idea.

He believes the construction of a new $9-million, 50,000-square-foot facility will be good for the park.

He wants the park to be known for much more than a golf course and trailer park.

"It's important for people to be aware of the value of the park. In order to do that, we have to get people in the park using it," he said.

The Telegram reported in December that the Y had selected the Pippy Park site as its preferred location.

Jason Brown, the Y's new chief executive officer, has said it would be a great location for the Y to offer accessible health, employment and child-care programs.

"We think it will be of great benefit to people in St. John's and to Pippy Park. It will draw more people to the park," Brown said.

The charitable organization has outgrown its current home on New Cove Road and is in the early stages of a campaign to raise money for a new facility.

The New Cove Road building was built 30 years ago and needs extensive upgrades.

A new, larger facility will enable the Y to add a swimming pool and centralize many programs under one roof, Brown has stated.

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