Wednesday, July 18, 2007

YMCA requests $75,000 from Sun Valley

Money is part of $450,000 recreational services contract

Express Staff Writer

The Wood River Community YMCA has requested that $75,000 be included in the city of Sun Valley's 2007-2008 budget to fulfill a contract for recreational services signed between the two entities in 2006.

The request, which came during a City Council budget hearing on Tuesday, July 17, is in addition to $50,000 approved by the city last year and is part of $450,000 the city agreed to pay to the YMCA over five years.

The entire $75,000 request will go toward programs and not toward construction costs, YMCA Associate Director Jason Fry said. The city of Ketchum leased the land for the new YMCA at $1 for 99 years.

The YMCA is poised for the grand opening of its flagship facility in Ketchum, on Nov. 3. The organization has raised $19.5 million but needs to raise an additional $2.5 million to cover construction costs for phase one and two of the project. Phase three, which includes an ice and activities arena, will require an additional $5 million.

The YMCA's pitch for funds stated that "the YMCA has approximately 550 participants from the city of Sun Valley registered in programs currently being offered to the community." In 2005, Winfield Consulting Group conducted a market research study that predicted that 28 percent of YMCA members would be from Sun Valley. The number does not include potential memberships for guests of Sun Valley residents, nor does it include rentals or seasonal residents.

"The city can safely assume that well over 40 percent of our 1,092 expected membership units will come form your constituents," states a letter to the Sun Valley mayor and City Council from Fry and YMCA board member Tom Praggastis.

The city's Comprehensive Plan includes an intention to offer recreational services to its residents. However, Fry said in an interview, "they don't have a parks and recreation department so they rely on outside providers to provide those services."

Fry told the council that the YMCA's plan is to offer a sliding scale for membership and use fees.

"It's part of our mission statement to not turn anyone away regardless of their ability to pay," he said.

As far as providing for employee housing, Fry said the YMCA would offer staff a 20 percent "pay differential," meaning that staff working in Ketchum will make roughly 20 percent more than staff working at the Boise YMCA, for example.

"We are looking for 90 to 100 part-time staff," Fry said. "And we are trying to recruit locally for employment."

The City Council will further discuss the matter on Wednesday, July 18, during its legislative fund discussion. A resolution is required for the actual allocation of funds and would be placed on the agenda for a regular meeting in August.

The scope of services offered by the YMCA include recreation, health and fitness, community events, youth and family programs, outreach programs and aquatics programs.

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