Friday, April 19, 2013

Ketchum OKs change to YMCA lease

‘Allies of the Y’ buy debt, ice rink no longer required

Express Staff Writer

    The Ketchum City Council voted 3-0 Monday to eliminate a major restriction in the lease for the city-owned land that supports the Wood River YMCA. Councilwoman Nina Jonas was not at the meeting.
    In 2005, the city entered a 99-year lease agreement with the YMCA for the organization to rent part of the property known as the “Park and Ride Lot” and develop it into a community and fitness center. In the lease, the city included language that required the organization to establish a reserve account in the amount of $250,000 that the city could use to demolish or operate and maintain improvements should the development fall through. It also included language that required the organization to build initial improvements, including a “recreational and swimming pool facility, ice rink and cultural center.”
    The YMCA has been operating since 2007.
    “The Y is stronger than it’s ever been,” Executive Director Jason Fry said at the meeting. “It’s working. It’s really working.”
    Fry said that a group of local investors, “The Allies of the Y” have offered to help the organization restructure its debt and reduce it by 64 percent.
    City documents state that the YMCA requested that the city amend the lease to approve of the change in lenders, waive the reserve account requirement and remove the language referring to an “ice rink and cultural center” in favor of broader language that states “and any and all other improvements as may be needed or desired by [the YMCA].”
    Council President Baird Gourlay suggested inserting language that would allow the city to introduce development proposals for the property “if in 15 years the Y hasn’t done anything, and the city has a cool project that it wants to do with the YMCA.” He said the council was “promised” an ice rink and would be “letting them out of an obligation” if it approved the amendment as proposed.
    Ed Lawson, an attorney representing the YMCA, said that “quite frankly,” the organization has plans for future development, and Baird’s proposal would change the terms of the lease too significantly for the organization to agree to it that night.
    “I figured I was throwing a wrench in it,” Gourlay said. “I can live without it.”
    Ketchum residents Anne Corrock and Phyllis Shafran said the community had pushed for the ice rink and urged the council not to approve the amendment. Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall said the ice skating community had never “come forward” in favor of a rink.
    “We don’t want to build it and have no one show up,” he said.

Brennan Rego:

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