Concerns raised over anti-Community Center ads
By KEVIN ENDEJAN
Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor
November 1, 2012 · 10:28 AM
Fond of it or not, differences in opinion are a part of the election season.
And while it’s a given not everyone agrees on all issues, some on the Sammamish City Council are asking one simple request for Nov. 6 — get the facts straight.
Several on the council, including Mayor Tom Odell, are concerned about the type of information coming from opponents of Proposition 1 — the advisory vote that gives Sammamish citizens an opportunity to weigh in on whether or not they want the council to approve a $30 million YMCA-run Community Center and Aquatic Center.
“(Opponents) are saying it’s a $25 million gift to the Y,” said Odell, who spent Sunday afternoon walking around and talking to neighbors about the advisory measure. “I don’t view it as a gift at all.”
Councilman Ramiro Valderrama was one of the driving forces behind adding Prop. 1 to to November ballot. He said he believes the city should always look at the private sector before going to non-profit organizations, but he said he also values fairness.
Valderrama said he wrote letters to the city’s attorneys in attempt to make sure both sides were being factual with the information they’ve provided.
He said for the most part that’s been done, but he does have concerns about some of the information presented by the political action committee, Common Sense Sammamish.
One particular line on a flyer that raised Valderrama’s eyebrows read: “The Sammamish City Council and Mayor also turned down a private developer who was willing to build and fund a community center with an indoor/outdoor pool that would save the city $20 million.”
Valderrama said the proposal he read from Cyrus Oskoui, owner of Columbia Athletic Clubs and member of Common Sense Sammamish, had no mention of a community center, but instead a health club. He said the construction of such a facility would have cost the city roughly $30 million to build.
“The part to me that is a little bit troubling is the misinformation that is flowing out is a little bit disingenuous,” Valderrama said.
Attempts to reach Common Sense Sammamish before the Reporter’s deadline were unsuccessful.
Valderrama said he does understand some of the concerns of the opposing group, which took issue with one of the items on the city’s fact sheet that read “No new taxes,” instead of what they felt should have been “No new expected taxes.”
“It’s fair enough, I guess, but the city said we want to be concise,” Valderrama said.
Odell wanted to make it clear that the city will provide the already-owned site near City Hall and $25 million in construction funding — $14 million of which will come from the Parks Capital Fund. The YMCA will contribute $5 million in construction funds plus an additional $1 million in equipment and furnishings.
The remaining $11 million will come from the city’s reserve budget.
“Our requirement is that we have 10 percent of one year’s operating budget in reserves,” Odell said. “We’ll still have about three years, if not more.”
In addition, the YMCA will give the city a 50-year lease at $1 year on approximately seven acres of YMCA property on 228th Avenue near Pine Lake Middle School for future civic purposes. Odell added that if somewhere down the road the agreement between the YMCA and city doesn’t work out, the city will retain title.
The mayor said a preliminary agreement on the construction side of the project has been reached, but the operating agreement is still be worked out.
Odell is aware some are concerned the operations agreement hasn’t been resolved, but he is certain residents will get some sort of discount on fees and will receive other benefits like the use of meeting rooms.
“We were attracted to the Y because of its operating expertise in this kind of environment,” Odell said. “They know how to run a good operation, they know how to run an efficient operation. We’ve never done anything like this on our own and for the benefit of our residents we think it’s going to be the most cost effective.”
What it comes with
• 60,000 square feet, two levels
• Leisure pool; Lap pool
• Family spa - jacuzzi
• Full size gymnasium
• Small gymnasium
• Two-lane walk/jog track
• Fitness space
• Locker rooms
• Multipurpose room
• Youth/teen activity room
• Child watch room
• Child Adventure Zone
• Approximately 300 parking spaces
• Restrooms on both floors
Contact Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor Kevin Endejan at email@example.com or 425-391-0363, ext. 5054.