‘Y’ proposes $24 million for renovated Mt. View facility

Posted 6/19/19

Property owners could be called upon to cover part of a proposed $24 million renovation of the YMCA’s Mountain View Commons facility.

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‘Y’ proposes $24 million for renovated Mt. View facility

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Property owners could be called upon to cover part of a proposed $24 million renovation of the YMCA’s Mountain View Commons facility.

The city of Port Townsend’s Budget and Finance Committee is evaluating whether it’s financially feasible for the city to partner with the YMCA, the county, the local hospital district and the Port Townsend School District on a new Y at the existing site.

This move was authorized by the Port Townsend City Council June 13, after Jeff Randall, the project coordinator for the Olympic Peninsula YMCA, proposed public-private partnerships to cover the funding, including $12 million from the formation of a metropolitan parks district.

Randall noted that this latest proposal builds on previous proposals, the first of which was developed between 2014 and 2016, and involved a 57,000-square-foot facility of all-new construction at Mountain View that, at the time, was estimated to cost $25 million.

“In today’s dollars, new Y facilities of this size being built in the Puget Sound region cost between $32 and $35 million,” Randall clarified to the press after the June 13 meeting.

The second option was developed in 2018, and proposing reusing the gym and pool buildings at Mountain View, while keeping the existing pool open during construction, with a finished footprint of 61,000 square feet.

“The cost estimate for this option came in between $30 and $38 million, depending on whether an optional third floor was included, and whether the pool was kept open during the construction process,” Randall said.

The latest proposal would replace the existing pool, but retain the gym, for a total footprint of about 43,000 to 45,000 square feet, with close to 200 parking spaces, that Randall estimated could be funded and operational by the summer of 2022.

City Manager David Timmons acknowledged that either the city, the county or both would have to put what would be a first-time measure, to create a park district within their respective boundaries, on the ballot for voters to approve or deny, possibly as soon as early next year.

Randall told the council and the packed-house audience in the council chambers June 13 that the Y expects it can raise $6 million in private funds via a capital campaign — a number supported by a 2016 capital feasibility study prepared by the Collins Group — and plans to ask its local partners for $3 to $4 million.

Randall anticipates a further $4 to $5 million in state funding could be secured through capital grants in the 2021 and 2022 legislative cycles.

As for the possible park district’s boundaries, Randall explained they’re still being evaluated.

“Our market feasibility study defined the benefit area as those portions of Jefferson County within a 15-minute drive time of Mountain View campus,” Randall said. “While we want this facility to be a resource for all residents in the county, we also realize, the closer you live to the facility, the more value it has for you.”

As such, Randall elaborated that it would be up to the Port Townsend City Council and the Jefferson County Commissioners to propose the park district’s boundaries, which the voters would ultimately decide as part of the ballot measure on creating a park district in the first place.

Although Randall figured the renovated Y’s annual operating costs would run around $1.74 million, he added that about 1,900 memberships per year should rake in an accompanying $1.88 million in annual revenue.

Nora Mitchell, finance and administrative services director for the city, estimated the city’s current annual budget for the pool to be as much as $400,000, after City Council member Michelle Sandoval stated, “I don’t know enough about the Y in its current incarnation.”

Sandoval hastened to add that Y staff had reached out to update the city, but the two agencies were unable to coordinate times to do so.

Nonetheless, Sandoval asserted that the city’s analysis needs to delve deeper than financial reports.

David Engle, board president for the YMCA Association, acknowledged the complexity of bringing together five community partners on this project, “when many marriages flounder with only two,” but he declared it worthwhile for fostering “an intergenerational nexus” between younger and older people in an increasingly aging community.

Teresa Hoffmann, the owner of the Port Townsend Athletic Club, and Tyese Woodley, who works with youth organizations in the community, agreed that the Y offers valuable services to the community, but they don’t want to see their own services swept aside by a city-funded competitor.

Hoffman touted her club’s 700 members, and expressed the hope that the Y could be partner to the athletic club, while Woodley was frank in saying that she didn’t want to see youth programs such as football, basketball and soccer “die” due to being overshadowed by the Y.

Jason Victor Serinus considered it “a red flag” that the Y had yet to meet with the full boards of its prospective partner organizations, since it suggested to him that those partners were not yet fully on board.

Serinus also echoed Hoffmann’ concerns with the fate of local businesses, as he spoke up for the Port Townsend Athletic Club, which he believes offers the “intergenerational dialogue” which Engle deemed vital to the community.

Although Randall stated that “no business is protected from competition,” he also sought to assure proponents of other health and wellness facilities that the Y wants to find ways to collaborate with them.

Brenda McMillan simply called for the city not to take on any further debt.

Timmons told the council their vote that evening would mark the beginning of the process, rather than its ending, with public partnerships and dialogues to follow, even as he echoed Randall’s acknowledgement of the process’ “aggressive scheduling.”

Still, with the amount of maintenance that he estimated had been deferred on the pool, Timmons said “the clock is ticking” on “a $4 million bill.”

Sandoval urged the city not to wait until the completion of its financial evaluation before exploring other aspects of the Y’s operations, while fellow council member Amy Howard questioned whether putting a budgetary evaluation first was working backwards.

When Mayor Deborah Stinson noted the importance of determining whether the Y’s proposal is even monetarily feasible, Howard conceded, “It’s like the chicken and the egg.”

Deputy Mayor David Faber confirmed his membership in the Port Townsend Athletic Club, and agreed that public money shouldn’t undermine private enterprise, but he also described the city as “holding the bag” for the pool regardless of whether it finds funding partners or not.

Although Bob Gray joined his fellow council members in a unanimous vote to move the resolution to the finance committee, he called for the city to prioritize its expenses.

Comments

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Tom Thiersch

About 6 years ago, county residents made it very clear that they did not support the creation of a new count-wide taxing district, the "MPD" (Metropolitan Parks District). Several areas went so far as to try to create their own, localized districts so that they would be exempt from any MPD.

Fortunately, the MPD failed to see the light of day -- and that idea should stay that way.

Any proposal that would levy taxes to build and support a facility to which most of those taxed people have no reasonable access and for which they have no need or desire to use is unacceptable.

Can we see the "market feasibility study", please?

Wednesday, June 19
Dawn mohrbacher

I learned to swim in that pool (when all children in port townsend were allowed access to it during school hours) my children learned to swim in it. It is a valuable asset we shouldn't knock down. We live in the Pacific Northwest and we have to teach our kiddos how to stay safe in water. The cost is relatively small in comparison to the bs road work we are doing down town. Should the Y run it. No but the city should keep it available.

Wednesday, June 19