Heath is offering to donate 15.5 acres in hopes of attracting a YMCA.

But there’s no guarantee the deal will be good for more than four months.

“We want to have the flexibility that we’re not … giving it to the YMCA if there is not going to be measurable progress made,” Mayor John Ratcliffe said.

The move is the latest in a years-long discussion of building a YMCA in southern Rockwall County.

The City Council agreed Thursday night to a letter of intent to grant the acreage, which could be enough for the YMCA, a sports fields and an indoor swimming pool.

The city owns 75 acres next to Rockwall-Heath High School, and part of that land could be used for the YMCA. But officials would find another site if a comprehensive plan committee decided that wasn’t the best use for it or if the city received an attractive commercial offer for the property.

The offer is being made now because the city is about to build a half-mile road between FM1140 and Rockwall-Heath High that would provide access to the property. The council accepted bids for the roadwork Thursday.

“We’ve talked for a couple of years now about making this property available for the Metropolitan YMCA, but there hasn’t been access to it,” said former council member James Tunnell, who serves on the Rockwall County YMCA’s advisory board.

Gordon Echtenkamp, president and CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, said the organization has been very interested in the property. He said the next step would be to determine whether a capital campaign in and around Rockwall County could generate the $4 million to $5 million needed for a basic YMCA with no pool or fields.

Heath officials said that if necessary, the fields could be built first and a building later.

Residents have clamored for a closer YMCA for years. The only one in the ! county i s on Goliad Street north of downtown Rockwall.

Advisory board member Brian Schneider said the YMCA would be a way for residents to meet.

“I moved to Heath because of your density,” he told the council. “I’ve stayed here because of your community.”

Also on Thursday, the council:

*Hired consultants to work with city leaders, staffers and residents to create a comprehensive plan. The plan is expected to incorporate major features from the current plan, such as open space and large home lots.

*Adopted a way for neighborhoods to request speed humps. The process requires a petition signed by 75 percent of people living within 500 feet of each hump.

*Agreed to allow RCH Water Supply Corp. to disconnect customers who don’t pay their sewer bills.

*Agreed to review impact fees approved earlier this year. A public hearing is set for Nov. 16.

*Voted to start annexing nearly 200 acres in the Equestrian and Falcon Point Phase I developments and land near the Stoneleigh development.

The annexation became possible after a recent boundary agreement with McLendon-Chisholm. Heath paid $100,000 to take 526 acres from McLendon-Chisholm’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.

McLendon-Chisholm Mayor Mike Donegan said the money would go toward making the city administrator a full-time position. McLendon-Chisholm has no property tax.

Mr. Ratcliffe said the land could bring Heath $60 million in tax revenue over 10 years.

Source: By LaKISHA LADSON / The Dallas Morning News