Vernon Hills boards offer YMCA letter of interest
Dennis Chesney is the marketing coordinator at the Central Lake YMCA in Vernon Hills. The financially beleaguered Y's fate is unknown as park and village officials mull a buyout. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 25, 2012 7:56AM
VERNON HILLS — Village trustees agreed Tuesday night to submit a letter of interest for the Central Lake YMCA property, with a willingness to pay $1.4 million if future inspections are satisfactory.
The Park Board of Commissioners sat at the same table and convened a meeting, voting to join the letter of interest as the building’s operator.
Park Board President David Doerhoefer encouraged YMCA members to wait until negotiations are over before choosing to find a new fitness center.
“People who are members now would already be members with us if this goes through,” Doerhoefer said. “Their rates would not go up and they would also receive access to all other park district facilities.”
Representing the Lake County Family YMCA was Interim CEO Hal Katz, who answered questions and ultimately told both boards that a letter of interest would go a long way with membership and YMCA lenders.
Katz said the bank might postpone action against the YMCA if it knew a genuine opportunity to generate funds was in progress.
Additionally, Katz said membership would be notified immediately if a government-operated replica of service was in the works.
All parties agreed that Central Lake’s membership is the most valuable component and each day that passes equates to more uncertain patrons signing up with competitors as a previously announced Oct. 31 closing date nears.
Before entering executive session, Village President Roger Byrne pressed Katz for a potential asking price. Katz said an appraiser valued the land at $2.25 million. Village Trustee Mike Marquardt immediately indicated a difference between appraised value and market value.
Jeff Fougerousse, executive director of the park district, told Katz that a potential transaction could not be completed in less than 60 days. In the meantime, the YMCA would be expected to remain open at regular hours with normal services.
Katz declined to comment on the $1.4 million figure or the prospect of extending services beyond Oct. 31, saying the YMCA board makes the final decisions.
“All I can do is present this information to the board and let them evaluate the merit,” Katz said. “I’m pleased with the urgency the village has conveyed. Every day is crucial to preserving these services.”
Both the Village Board and Park Board recessed their meetings until Thursday at 8 p.m. so the Lake County Family YMCA can review the letter, provide feedback and answer more questions.
Trustees and commissioners raised concerns over the potential revenue if members already are leaving, as well as a damaged roof that could cost $200,000 if the entire 40,000 square feet needs to be replaced.
Trustee James Schultz was not happy about the roof, saying its rubber configuration should last 25 years and to have problems 12 years in must indicate a lack of maintenance. He hoped only a portion of the roof needs replacing.
Overcrowding of the fitness area also was discussed.
Salary information was provided to village and park officials just prior to the meeting. From now until Thursday, that information will be evaluated, but Doerhoefer said he anticipates keeping as many current YMCA staff as possible.
Check vernonhills.suntimes.com for updates on the YMCA situation.