Vernon Hills boards consider buying YMCA
Updated: October 17, 2012 4:28PM
VERNON HILLS — The financially strapped Central Lakes YMCA in Vernon Hills might become a village-owned, park district-operated fitness center.
The Park Board of Commissioners will meet Monday to review YMCA financial data and decide how the YMCA buiding could be used, if at all, board President David Doerhoefer said.
Meanwhile, Village Manager Mike Allison announced the village board will gather for a special meeting Tuesday. Village trustees also will review the same information and potentially buy the property. An intergovernmental agreement with the park district would follow.
Allison and village trustees leaned more toward village ownership than park district ownership.
Park administrators are housed in the Larry Laschen Community Center, the former village hall that was leased to the park district in 2002.
During the Oct. 16 village board meeting, trustees were amending their strategic plan when Village President Roger Byrne and Trustee Cindy Hebda suggested turning the Laschen Center into a senior center if the YMCA property is purchased.
Byrne said he had read that the YMCA was valued at $4.2 million, but Allison clarified, saying the YMCA owes approximately $6 million collectively on both the Vernon Hills and Waukegan buildings.
An hour-long executive session followed the regular board meeting. Then trustees decided to request more information from the YMCA and reconvene on Tuesday.
Allison later said the YMCA has a strong presence worth preserving, and that an offer could be approved at Tuesday’s meeting.
“What we need to decide is if it’s the YMCA that people like or the dynamics of the building,” Allison said. “If we purchase the building, one of those elements will be gone. We must be sure that remaining element is what our residents want.”
If the park district took control of the building and programming, either through direct purchase or leasing from the village, Doerhoefer said the day care, after-school programs and pool would remain focal points.
Certain rooms and venues, like dance rooms and basketball courts, would be consolidated with those offered at other park facilities to create free space for new programming.
“The YMCA would become an additional asset of the park district,” Doerhoefer said. “We would keep everything else open and our administrators would stay in the Laschen Community Center.”
Lake County Family YMCA announced last week the scheduled closure of Central Lake YMCA and the Waukegan branch due to approximately $6 million in bonds being called for payment.
YMCA officials have attempted several fundraisers throughout October to raise at least $5 million to prevent the doors from closing for good Oct. 31.
Central Lake YMCA was constructed in 2001. Allison said if Vernon Hills buys the structure, he doesn’t anticipate using bonds.
“We would probably pull that money out of our reserve fund,” Allison said.
Vernon Hills has more than $22 million in reserve.