Sammamish OKs operating agreement with YMCA

The citizens had their say in November, now the Sammamish City Council has granted the wishes of the majority.

The citizens had their say in November, now the Sammamish City Council has granted the wishes of the majority.

The council approved two agreements Tuesday night — an Operational and Management Agreement with the YMCA for a Sammamish Community and Aquatic Center and a recreational property ground lease agreement for a piece of YMCA-owned property adjacent to Pine Lake Middle School.

“Toward the end of the month, the YMCA board is going to meet, they’re going to take a look at this and after that it will be my greatest pleasure to sign these contracts,” city manager Ben Yazici said.

The council wasn’t unanimous in its decision. Council member John Curley, who has openly voiced his displeasure with the $25 million project, provided the lone dissenting vote.

Curley said he was worried that the YMCA, which will contribute $5 million of the $30 million total, would eventually lose its landlord-tenant relationship with the city and the non-profit would start asking for loans to maintain the 60,000 square-foot facility.

He was also concerned about businesses in the private sector losing business, or completely going out of business.

“I’m like the guy standing on the platform yelling at the train that went by,” Curley said. “I’m all for the Y. I love their whole idea. I just don’t think it necessarily fits what we’re trying to do up here.”

Others, like council member John James, had small concerns, like all the furniture and equipment being new.

“The intent is that it will be new,” Parks Director Jessi Bon assured him. “I would also ask you to keep in mind that the YMCA is interested in selling memberships and I don’t think they’d do so well if they couldn’t compare with their competitors.”

Mayor Tom Odell said he first began working on the community center project three years ago when he joined the council. He was pleased to see the project become more reasonable in price, virtually cut in half from the original consultant’s presentation.

“I think I’d probably find a half of dozen, a dozen points I might want to take minor issue with, but I feel very strongly that this is an excellent package and I want to commend the Y and the city staff,” he said.

Here are the highlights of the operating agreements reached on Tuesday:

The city-owned building will be leased to the YMCA at $1 per year for 25 years.

The YMCA will manage the facility, provide programs and cover all operating expenses.

If both parties agree, the lease could be extended to 50 years.

The city will serve as the lead on design and construction.

For the first 18 months, residents may join free of charge. After 18 months, they will receive a 75 percent discount on joining.

Meeting space will be available at no charge for Sammamish-based community groups.

Exhibition space will be available for the Sammamish Arts Commission and Sammamish Heritage Society.


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