Camas council mulls purchase of LaCamas Swim & Sport

Additional discussions are expected in August

Feasibility Study

Read the Lacamas Swim & Sport financial feasibility study at http://camas.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=464&meta_id=34806

Several Camas City Council members are not ready to commit to the purchase of LaCamas Swim & Sport.

During yesterday’s workshop, Lauren Livingston, president of The Sports Management Group, said the membership billing units originally reported by the club included the Silver Sneakers and Silver Fit program participants. The senior citizens are billed a per class fee, but they do not pay a membership fee.

Removing the number of Silver program participants reduces the number of members from 1,700 to 886, just for the purposes of a financial feasibility study.

With an actual membership of 886, the sale of an additional 600 memberships/annual passes would be necessary to achieve the desired cost recovery, according to Livingston.

“2,500 annual pass holders would not be extraordinary,” if the city provided activities that are attractive to the marketplace,” she said.

Projected revenue is listed at $1.76 million to $2 million, while projected expenses are $2.2 million to $2.34 million.

“We currently subsidize the Crown Park pool, community center and recreation program, so those subsidies would be used to balance the revenue and expenditures,” City Administrator Pete Capell said this morning. “The forecast shows that it will not have an impact on the general fund.

“The expenses include $50,000 for equipment replacement and $100,000 building reserve for expansion and major repairs,” he added.

Councilman Tim Hazen described the potential purchase of the club to be a “speculative bet on an aging asset.”

According to Capell, the potential bond amount to purchase LaCamas Swim & Sport could be for $5.4 million, plus the appraised value of the land, $1.2 million.

The amount of a general obligation bond could include the cost of $500,000 in planned improvements, such as exterior retrofit, signage, painting and upgrading finishes and additional locker rooms.

Denise Croucher owns the business and the 41,000 square foot building it is located in. They have been appraised at $4.9 million.

Arne D. Olsen owns 4.5 acres at the LaCamas Swim & Sport site. Croucher is leasing the land from him.

The health and fitness center, located at 2950 N.W. 38th Ave., Camas, features a gymnasium, group exercise room, two pools, fitness and spin rooms, and child care area.

Mayor Scott Higgins, a LaCamas member, said the club is sometimes “very under utilized” during the daytime.

Councilman Steve Hogan said a vote by the public regarding the purchase of LaCamas “would take us off the hook.”

LaCamas Swim & Sport started operating the Camas municipal pools, in Crown Park, at 120 N.E. 17th Ave., this summer. The city-owned pools were built in 1950.

Capell said it would cost $1.5 million to replace them with a new pool. Other options that would continue to provide water access for the community include demolishing the pools at Crown Park and building a splash/play area and/or an amphitheater. Estimates for those options have not been developed.

Randy Curtis, chairman of the Community Center Development Committee, talked about how the Friends of the Camas Community Center and other supporters have been promoting the idea of building a community center for more than 25 years.

“People kept working, to keep this alive,” he said.

Curtis, a LaCamas member, said the cost of a new center this year would be $24 million.

“It is outside our ability to fund [that amount],” he said.

Councilman Don Chaney expressed concerns about incurring debt and risk during difficult economic times.

Councilwoman Shannon Turk, a member of the Community Center Development Committee, said purchasing LaCamas could provide a place for children and teens to participate in intramural athletic programs.

Higgins described the potential purchase as “Camas’ one shot to get a community center.”

“I feel it won’t happen any other way,” he said.

Councilman Greg Anderson said he likes the proposal, but he struggles with the financial risk.

Higgins said if the purchase occurred and it ended up being a failure, the city would have an asset.

“It has value and could be surplused,” he said. “That would be a worst case scenario.”

Hogan wondered, “where are the big hitters?”

“People should step up and donate,” he said.

Councilwoman Linda Dietzman, a member of the Community Center Development Committee, wants the center but has financial concerns about this potential purchase.

“We should grab the opportunity if we can figure out how to pay for it,” she said.

Hazen said the Jack, Will & Rob Boys & Girls Club, in Camas, does a great job supporting youth. Turk said that center is for elementary school students, not teenagers.

Hazen said he has a hard time seeing value in the purchase of LaCamas Swim & Sport, and he has concerns regarding finding 600 new members.

He wishes the community could vote on the issue.

“I would hate to see the Crown Park pool close,” Hazen said. “It is sentimental. It is a signature piece for Camas.”

Councilwoman Melissa Smith said the purchase of the fitness club is a great idea, but the city is just getting out of a recession.

During public comments, Tim Hein, of Camas, said he has been a member of LaCamas Swim & Sport since 1999.

“It works for me and my family,” he said. “In the private sector, it runs well.

“It is a well functioning private club,” Hein added.

He is concerned about the potential acquisition cost of the fitness club.

Additional City Council discussions are expected to occur during a workshop in August.

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