Sammamish City Council agrees to alter commnuity center contract

April 9, 2013

By Ari Cetron

The City Council agreed to make some changes to the agreement with the Y about operating the new community center. Along with those discussions at the April 2 meeting, the council decided it should take a look at the YMCA’s business plan for the center.

The council had already approved a draft of an operating agreement. However, the Y asked for a few changes to, which meant the council had to take another look at it.

One of the changes — concerning what happens if someone backs out of the agreement — concerned Councilman Don Gerend. Under the previous arrangement, if the YMCA wanted to terminate the agreement without a reason, they would not be reimbursed for the $5 million they are contributing to the $30 million project.

Under the new agreement, they cannot withdraw without cause for the first 10 years. If, after that, they do pull out, they will be reimbursed for a pro-rated amount of the $5 million.

Gerend, along with Mayor Tom Odell, was concerned that the agreement change might be different from what city officials had represented to citizens in advance of the advisory vote.

Parks Director Jessi Bon noted that the initial discussions had revolved around what would happen if the Y pulled out within five years. Since they now can’t for at least 10 years, Bon said from that perspective the agreement is stronger.

Bon also pointed out that the Y wanted a similar assurance from the city, so an extra clause was added stating the city also can’t terminate the agreement until after 10 years.

Gerend said he felt that the addition of the 10-year clause would be sufficient to protect the city’s interest and would meet, generally, what they had told the public.

In the midst of the discussion, Councilman John Curley, a longtime opponent of the community center, questioned why the city has not seen a business plan, showing how the Y expects the facility to stay in business.

“I don’t want to approve something until I see how they’re going to run their business,” Curley said.

Councilmembers noted the Y has more than a century of experience in running community centers, but that it would be nice to know how they expect to run this one, specifically.

Bon pointed out that since the design of the building is not finalized, it would be difficult for the Y to have firm numbers about its projected expenses.

Changing the size of the pool, for example, could mean a big difference in the expenses the Y would expect to incur, Bon said.

She suggested that when the architects present a more firm design in late June or early July, the Y might have firmer numbers.

The council asked that the Y let the city have a look at whatever sorts of expense and income projections they have now, and then get a look at firmer numbers as they develop.

 

Reach Editor Ari Cetron at 392-6434, ext. 233, or samrev@isspress.com.

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