City Manager Tries to Squash Reports about YMCA Takeover of Aqua Center
~ by Bob Volpe ~
A sea of rumors floating around town claims that the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) will take over management of the new Woodland Aquatic Center when it is completed.
In fact, some local rumor-mongers, who are fairly well-known movers and shakers in the community, have lauded the idea, saying this type of management arrangement would make fiscal sense for the city. They also believe that key officials are supportive of this concept.
But Woodland Park City Manager David Buttery strongly disputes this rumor and related reports. And last week, he gave a detailed account of the Y’s disposition with the center.
“Absolutely not” said Buttery, in describing reports of the YMCA possibly running the Woodland Aquatic Center. Then he stated that “absolutely not” may be too strong of a statement.
In backtracking slightly, the city manager gave a brief history of Woodland Park’s previous arrangement with the YMCA for a former bid for recreation center and a city hall renovation.
“Way back when we were doing a full blown rec center (around the time of the approval of the Wal-Mart project) we were absolutely partnering with the Y. The city was going to build it, the Y was going to run it. That hit the skids in 2010/2011 and did not happen.”
The YMCA-run recreation center bid got de-railed when the economy hit tough times during the Great Recession, and with the growing reality that the city didn’t have enough extra sales tax revenue to build the project, even with a new Wal-Mart facility.Then, a citizens’ initiative for another related full-blown recreation center, to be funded by an increase in sales taxes, was strongly defeated.
This led to the idea of just dong an aquatic center, a project spearheaded by a non-profit group that pursued the dream of having an indoor swimming pool hub.
“As we were working through the operational aspects of the aquatic center, the non-profit Woodland Aquatic Project group had done a business plan to determine the subsidy the city would have to
provide for the project to break even,” related Buttery. “Most of our public facilities, the cultural center, park and rec program don’t make money and are subsidized through the general fund, which is very normal.”
“As we got closer to having to make a decision on the running of the aquatic center, we did ask the YMCA to put together a proposal to see what it would cost for them to run it.
“Then we also did an in-house analysis utilizing our own staff. So we had three documents that we could compare to see what made the most sense. We went with the Y because they have been doing that for over 100 years. We used them for some technical consultation. We have a relationship with them that goes back to 2005. They provided the proforma, we compared it with our city proforma and decided that the city was the better of the two. So
the Y said thank you and we moved forward.”
Buttery then stated, “We had promised the community a long time ago that we would look to find the most efficient to run the pool, and we believe right now that it’s the city that can do the best job.”
Woodland Park’s Parks & Recreation will be managing the pool, when the facility opens for business later this year. According to Buttery, the city has hired an aquatic center manager. That person will be responsible for staffing the facility with maintenance people, assistants, life guards, etc.
Buttery explained how the rumor may have started. He said, “In a public meeting I may have said that we were getting some input from the Y or different entities, but never ever did I make a commitment
that we were going with them.”