SARC pursuing study for YMCA partnership

While they consider a number of options, Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center board members are further pursuing a partnership with the Olympic Peninsula YMCA.

While they consider a number of options, Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center board members are further pursuing a partnership with the Olympic Peninsula YMCA.

In a 3-2 vote last week, the SARC board agreed to contribute $5,000 toward a study of the feasibility of a partnership between the two entities.

SARC board chairman Frank Pickering, vice-chairman Sherry Nagel and board member Melinda Griffith voted in favor of supporting the study while board members Jan Richardson and Gil Goodman voted against.

The study funding, Pickering said, is just the first part of looking at a potential partnership. Among other options board members have considered to help run the facility slated to close in September 2016 include: fundraising through a nonprofit group; a collaboration with Clallam County and the City of Sequim via a metropolitan park district, and asking taxpayers to support a levy.

Voters have rejected both levy (February) and metropolitan park district (August) proposals in recent months.

“We’re in the middle of a long process,” Pickering said. “It could take months to make a decision. It (the study) is only one part of what we’re trying to do.”

Pickering noted that an anonymous contributor is funding $10,000 while other entities are considering picking up part of the estimated $36,000 YMCA feasibility study, to be completed by Strategic Research Associates.

The market study would poll current SARC pass-holders as well as members of the broader community, said Kyle Cronk, chief executive officer of the Olympic Peninsula YMCA. Results are expected in October, Cronk said.

Though SARC, the multi-purpose athletic facility at 610 N. Fifth Ave., is decreasing hours starting Oct. 5, the board and staff estimate they will have to close the facility Sept. 30, 2016, unless another funding source is found.

Hence, the study toward a SARC-YMCA partnership.

The vote didn’t sit well with Goodman or Richardson.

“I don’t think they need our $5,000,” Goodman said of Olympic Peninsula YMCA. “We’re better served to get a proposal (without spending that money).”

Gary Huff, Olympic Peninsula YMCA board member, said, “You need this information (and) we need this information.”

A number of attendees at last week’s SARC board meeting voiced some consternation toward the board for pursuing the YMCA option.

Virginia O’Neil, who ran for a position to help govern the proposed metropolitan park district in August, told the commissioners that failed proposal was their survey.

Former SARC board member Paul McHugh asked board members to reconsider a proposal he gave them earlier this year that outlines a fee structure that he believes could keep SARC financially solvent.

“Voters have decided they do not want to subsidize (SARC) … so it should fall to the users,” McHugh said. “If the survey comes back that says users are willing to pay more, you’ll keep it. If not, wouldn’t the YMCA pass (on a partnership)?”


City defers decision

On Monday night, Sequim city councilors deferred on a decision to contribute toward that same feasibility study. Many councilors said they want to see where other funding comes from first before contributing.

Councilor Laura Dubois said she wants to see a commitment from Clallam County commissioners.

“We need to ask (commissioners),” she said. “That’s the official name of SARC (Clallam County Parks and Recreation District). They have an obligation to step up, too.”

Councilor Dennis Smith said he was reluctant to contribute for a few reasons: one, that it set a precedent for others asking for money, and, two, that SARC’s board wasn’t unanimous in its decision.

“If they knew this was the only way to get out of it, then why didn’t they vote unanimously?” Smith asked.

Councilors Ted Miller, Genaveve Starr and Ken Hays all said they’d support the study funding because the city council made a commitment to help SARC. However Hays said he also wants assurances there won’t be fighting from SARC supporters over the YMCA taking over.

City councilors tentatively will discuss the study again on Oct. 12.

 

SARC meeting

When: 5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1

Location: SARC gym, 610 N. Fifth Ave.

Agenda includes update on YMCA study

More info: Call 683-3344 or online at www.sarcfitness.com.