No alderman had anything nice to say about the REC Center lease Tuesday before voting unanimously to discontinue it in July 2013 with a $100,000 penalty.
, the city could purchase the REC Center for about $4 million, continue the lease through 2018, or opt out of the agreement in July 2013. City leaders need to inform the landlords, Walker Custom Homes, if they are going to continue or opt out of the lease by the end of this month.
Mayor Gary Golinski promised the council would publicly debate purchasing the building before making a final decision.
“We will not be making any quick, behind the scenes decisions," Golinski said. "Everything will be debated out in the open.”
What aldermen said
Ward 1 Alderman Carlo Colosimo called the lease agreement "atrocious."
“I’m glad I got elected so I can vote tonight to kill it," Colosimo said.
Ward 4 Alderman Rose Spears said she was a leading opponent of the lease when it was discussed in 2007. She suggested killing a road pavement study the council approved to cover the lease penalty.
“Why don’t we just take that money, cancel the road study, take that $100,000 and get rid of this?” Spears said.
Meanwhile, Ward 2 Alderman Larry Kot said the lease agreement had too many unknowns. The lease makes the city responsible for much of the building's maintenance and a gradually increasing lease price.
“I’ve been a longstanding support of the rec programs and this isn’t about the rec programs," Kot said. "It’s about a lease we can’t afford.”
Ward 3 Alderman Marty Munns was absent.
What the public said
During the public comment portion of Tuesday's meeting, residents expressed concern about the competing with private businesses, the finances surrounding the facility and programs focused at children and senior citizens. About 20 people were sitting in the audience.
Yorkville resident Walt Stagner objected to taxpayer funds covering the facility's budget shortfall.
“If as many people in the community as I’m hearing want the REC Center, what they should do is form a non profit and take up a collection and come up with the money (to cover the shortfall)," Stagner said.
Meanwhile, Park Board member Amy Cesich, who also is running for Kendall County Board, encouraged aldermen to keep an open mind about purchasing the REC Center. If the city owned the building, the city would not have to pay about $60,000 in real estate taxes or utilities, she said.
Cesich also encouraged them to consider what space would hold recreation programs.
“What is Plan B?" Cesich asked. "Where do the programs go? Are you telling the community that (recreation) isn’t important?”
Buying the building still an option
City staff are continuing negotiations surrounding purchasing the building.
The REC Center's budget, which has remained separate from the Parks and Recreation Department's surplus budget, has run an annual deficit since the city began operating it in 2008. The annual deficit was about $77,000 in Fiscal Year 2009, about $50,200 in Fiscal Year 2010, and about $68,000 in the most recent fiscal year.
Meanwhile membership has increased from 977 in November 2010 to 1,467 last month.
City leaders have declined to reveal what a recent appraisal of the REC Center building showed, citing the on-going purchase negotiations. Cesich said building a new facility would cost about $12 million, while renting other spaces in Yorkville would cost more per square foot than the current lease.
Cesich also said she thought $4 million was too much to pay for the building, although she didn't specify a price she would support.
“If the owners are not willing to work with us at a reasonable price, then yes, it is out of our hands," Cesich said.