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New YMCA opened in Scripps Ranch

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A new YMCA facility opened in Scripps Ranch this summer, and has begun its camps and sports programs. The grand opening ceremony on June 16 marked the completion of phase one of the project. Three playing fields, two basketball courts, and parking and restroom facilities were opened, and Mayor Jerry Sanders, Councilman Brian Maienschein and community leader Bob Dingman were in attendance to help kick off the new family center. The second phase of the project will potentially bring a fully functioning YMCA facility to the 4.5-acre site at Scripps Poway Parkway and Scripps Summit Drive.

The plan to build the new YMCA began with community groups that expressed to the Rancho Family YMCA a desire for a facility in Scripps Ranch. After a community survey was taken to determine what should go on the site, construction began on Jan. 13. Although the community could provide enough funds for completion of the first phase, comprehensive marketing and fundraising studies must take place before the permanent facility can be built.

"When the community groups first came to us and said, 'We'd like to put a Y here, what do you guys think?' we said, 'Great, but we don't have any money.' So they came up with $425,000 to make sure phase one got done," said Cindi Phallen, executive director of the Rancho Family YMCA. The bulk of the money, $330,000, was used to complete the initial phase opened in June.

"Some of it has been saved for the studies," added Phallen. "We entered into a lease with the city so the legal contract says we have this portion to use for developing the land, and we have this much for the studies, and we will be looking to spend that money within the next year."

Planning has begun for the first marketing study, which will occur in the fall, and the organization will seek donations from individuals and businesses in Scripps Ranch and the surrounding areas of Saber Springs, Poway and Mira Mesa. It is also looking for larger donations.

"We're giving them the opportunity, if they pledge a multimillion-dollar gift, to name the building after them," Phallen said. If all goes as planned, the final facility will be ready in 2012.

"Our hope would be a permanent YMCA building: two stories, with a pool, rec center and gymnasium. However, that's at least five years down the road because a lot of things have to happen between now and then," Phallen said.

For now, the temporary facility is offering summer camps for kids ages 3 and up, sports programs including T-ball, soccer, flag football and basketball for teens. More than 400 kids are currently attending the programs, and an adult men's basketball league is in the works.

The community groups that asked for the new YMCA adopted a Scripps Ranch community plan in the mid-'80s that called for a family-oriented recreation facility, explained Claudia Unhold, who has served on the Miramar Ranch North Community Planning Group for 14 years, and now serves on the board of the YMCA.

"We originally had a site that was dedicated for this use, and it ended up the school district purchased that site and placed a school there (Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary). So the planning committee worked really hard to get another site for that use," Unhold said. "We felt really strongly that, number one, we should be trying to attain what was envisioned for our community, and we also felt that facilities like that really help build communities. The Y offers so many wonderful programs for all ages, they seemed to be a perfect fit."

When developers had finished building all the facilities for the Miramar Ranch North section of Scripps Ranch, they dedicated their leftover funds, $425,000, to the community groups, who decided to use it to build a YMCA. In order to purchase the new parcel of land, the groups used funds held by the city but allocated for the benefit of all of Scripps Ranch.

The civil engineering for phase one was done by Rick Engineering, and the construction, mostly consisting of grading, drainage requirements and asphalt, was done by Russo's Landscape. All the sod for the fields was donated by Benchmark Landscape at the suggestion of one of its clients. The 40,000 square feet of sod was equivalent to a donation of around $15,000, said Benchmark Vice President Craig Mohns.

Many other businesses showed their support at the opening ceremony in June. The free carnival-themed celebration was open to the public, and more than 300 people came to take part in the celebrations. With many kids there to play in the "bounce house" and climb the rock wall, community businesses Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), Vons, Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), AmeriSpec and Replica gave out prizes and goody bags. Dr. Raymund Miranda provided free massages, and the Humane Society brought animals for kids to play with. Food was given out by Baskin-Robbins, Submarina and Santorini.

"I was thrilled with the celebration. There was great attendance and the facilities are perfect for being able to run programs right now on an interim basis, until we're able to raise the funds for the permanent facility," Unhold said. "I hope to see a really successful fundraising effort, and I look forward to visiting when there's a full-blown YMCA facility there operating on the site."

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