City Cancels REC Center Lease

City will continue operating the facility through June 2013, negotiations on buying the building continue.

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.

Kibitzer December 14, 2011 at 04:32 AM
Why is there ongoing purchase negotiations? We can't afford to help a handful of people obtain whatever goal they have in going to the Rec Center. Let them pay to go to other places to exercise, or exercise at home. And we taxpayers should have a right to know what the appraisal value is. If it is purchased, who is paying for that? 2012 is going to be a rough year in the US and the World. We are in danger every day that passes. There is enough to think about without having to worry where the money is coming from to pay the constant tax increase on every level.
Jillian Duchnowski December 14, 2011 at 05:15 AM
Kibitzer, I don't know anything about the purchase negotiations besides what I've reported, but I assume some people think the REC Center could be self-sustaining if it was purchased. For example, last year's deficit was $68,000. The property tax payment was about $60,000. If the city bought the property under a contract that made the monthly payments similar or slightly lower than the current rent payments, that could put the facility close to breaking even. I'm not saying it's a good idea or that there aren't tons of other variable involved (for example, long-term maintenance costs) but it's one possible thought process.
It all comes out in the wash December 14, 2011 at 09:42 PM
"She suggested killing a road pavement study the council approved to cover the lease penalty." Rose, may I remind you that roads are part of our community. How about giving up Aldermas health insurance and paying the lease off? That's 110,000.00 for this year.
Robyn Sutcliff January 04, 2012 at 05:59 PM
I took a class at the Rec Center this morning. It was packed. The parking lot was packed the lobby was packed the class was packed. People love this place. It is an asset to our community. Find a way to keep it!
What's the truth???? February 03, 2012 at 05:20 AM
My advice is ask questions.. When they city took over the REC Center they had to keep the budget separate (understandable). Oneof the points of leasing/purchasing the REC Center I believe was to have a locationto run some of the programs/classes the city was offering, so as planned that is what happened, BUT the revenue from the classes the city moved over to the REC stayed in the recreation budget. Over the years some or the revenue went to the REC but there are still classes offered there, in the REC Center, that do not benefit it's budget they benefit the recreation budget. That dosen't add up to me! Then in the past year the city decided to move the offices of the Rec Dept. (formally located off of Hyraulic St.) to the REC Center, allowing them to lease out a building down on E. Hydraulic St. by the River to three different businesses, generating more money for the city. But then again I ask: Without the REC Center would they have been able to do this? If not, then shouldn't that money that is being generated from these new rental locations go to the REC Center budget?
What's the truth???? February 03, 2012 at 05:21 AM
There is so much more I could ask, but I will leave you with this thought: Why won't they disclose the price of the recent appraisal value? If I think about this logically.... well they would definitely disclose it if it benefited them, right? So the only thing that I can come up with is that it must have appraised at the price Walker Custom Homes is asking....or at least not as low as the city wants to offer. I guess the point of this is look back at all of the article and start asking questions....the numbers don't add up. They have more members then in 2010 but have $12,000 less revenue so are the programs they are offering doing bad...no not from what they say. So what is the TRUTH????????


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