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Northwest YMCA location dispute continues

A judge has ruled in favor of a group of Radisson residents regarding their right to legally fight the location of the proposed YMCA in Radisson.

On Jan. 21, Supreme Court Judge Anthony Paris ruled in favor of Families For REAL allowing the group to continue with their lawsuit against the proposed Drake's Landing location of the Northwest YMCA. The group contends that if the YMCA is built at the site, which was approved by the Empire State Development Corporation, it would affect the neighborhood's quality of life, the safety of family members and reduce property values.

According to Jeff Dack, one of the attorneys representing Families For REAL, the parcel of land "is specifically designated residential and the [ESDC] approval was granted without notice or opportunity for public input." In addition, "when giving it's approval, the ESDC claimed to have no knowledge of the size of the building," which Dack said will be 98,000-plus square feet and two stories, overwhelming traffic in a busy residential area.

According to YMCA officials, the ruling was no surprise.

"We anticipated [the lawsuit to move forward] based on the fact that [Judge Paris] did not grant our motion for dismissal in October of 2008 when he heard oral arguments in the case," said Kristin Atkinson, the YMCA public relations coordinator. "We believe that by allowing the lawsuit to move forward, future litigation will be avoided."

Atkinson said the location was chosen because it allows easy access for people visiting the YMCA from around the area. She added that the General Project Plan, which defines land use in Radisson, clearly states that a recreational facility is an allowable "special use" under the residential category.

"The YMCA is a not-for-profit community that allows people of all races, religions, abilities and incomes to come together for recreational purposes. It is not a 'commercial' entity as some are trying to portray," Atkinson said.

While Families For REAL claims to support the YMCA and its efforts, the 900-plus neighbors said the facility would be better located in the 300-acre Radisson Commercial Corporate Park.

Despite the ruling, the YMCA continues to move forward with the site approval process with the town of Lysander Planning Board. On Jan. 21, the town of Lysander Planning Board initiated the SEQRA process for the facility's proposed site plan, which was submitted in December.

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