Council approves going out for a request for proposal to see if a parks district or private company is interested in running the YMCA

COURTESY OF SHERWOOD FAMILY YMCA - A request for proposal is being sought by the city to see if there are other agencies out there interested in running the YMCA and asking what they would be charged.
The city is moving ahead with plans to see if there are any outside agencies interested in running the Sherwood YMCA in the future.

On Feb. 21, the Sherwood City Council approved going out for a request for proposal to gauge what it would take, and the subsequent costs associated with, having a parks district or private company take over operations of the city-owned recreational and aquatic center if the city and YMCA decided not to renew a current contract.

A recent feasibility study showed that having the city take over operations would be a more costly endeavor than having the YMCA run the facility, which it has done since 1998 as part of an operating agreement that expires in 2018.

City Manager Joe Gall told the council he wants to have the so-called RFP completed by early summer so that if the city or YMCA seek to end the contract, both entities are given a year's notice as required in the current contract. He said from a business standpoint it's good to see what's out there.

"The YMCA has indicated they're going to put a proposal in (as well)," Gall noted.

While the feasibility study, conducted by Ballard King & Associates, cost the city $31,000, Gall said there would be no financial impact for a request proposal other than four to six hours of staff time to put it together.

"This is not creating the wheel," said Gall. "It's not going to cost $10,000 to put together an RFP."

Money for the feasibility study came from the city's contingency fund, not the general fund budget, the latter used to fund salaries and other city services, Gall stressed.

Still, the city manager pointed out that the council shouldn't expect to get numerous agencies saying they would run the recreation facility.

"You're not going to get 15 proposals," he said. "You're going to get two to three, maybe four."

One possible scenario put forward during the Feb. 21 meeting was whether the YMCA would be interested in purchasing the building outright from the city, an issue that has come up in discussions between the city and YMCA officials.

"They haven't said 'yes' but they haven't definitely said 'no'," Gall said.

Councilor Sally Robinson said she would support having an outside architect look at the building and identify features that need attention, something also recommended in the consultant's report.

Gall also said the city should have an appraiser come in and determine what the recreational facility building is worth, something YMCA officials are interested in as well.

At the same time, council members suggested having a couple of town hall/open house meetings to get residents' take on what they would like to see done with the YMCA.

"I think there's been a misconception we're set on one direction and we are not," Robinson said in relation to who will run the YMCA in the future. She also suggested the city find out the value of the equipment currently in the building.

Gall said the city could hold several listening sessions for the public.

"Whatever decision you make is not going to make everyone happy," he noted.

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