Camas may buy LaCamas Swim & Sport

Information regarding bond issuance tool will be presented at July 7 workshop

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After several years of committees looking at options for constructing a community center in Camas, a potential site is available that would cost less and be available sooner.

City leaders are looking into the possibility of purchasing LaCamas Swim & Sport.

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

LaCamas Swim & Sport Owner Denise Croucher told Camas City Council members yesterday that LA Fitness had offered to buy the facility.

She said her business is not in financial distress.

“It’s been my dream to have the best club for the community,” Croucher said. “It’s not just a job for me. It is not my kids’ dream. This would be marrying my dream to the city, and it gives [the club] the best future and protection.”

She said she wants to go to the facility when she is 90 and participate in the Silver Sneakers fitness program for senior citizens.

“We’re definitely not in trouble,” Croucher added. “This is the next best step for my dream to continue.”

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

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

The amount of the 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.

According to information provided by the Clark County Assessor’s Office, Arne D. Olsen owns 4.5 acres at the LaCamas Swim & Sport site. Croucher is leasing the land from him.

The value of the land, as of Jan. 1, 2013, was $738,100.

City Councilwoman Shannon Turk said she was “super excited” about the opportunity to purchase the fitness center.

As a former management analyst for the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation, she accessed information regarding local residents who go to the Firstenburg Community Center.

According to Turk, there are 368 pass holders from Camas and 159 from Washougal, who use the Firstenburg facility. Regarding individuals who take classes there, that involves 1,095 people from Camas and 214 from Washougal.

Croucher said aquatics is her specialty, with 800 children taking swim lessons, 227 youth and 150 adults participating on swim teams at LaCamas.

“The gym sits empty,” she said. “The city could have basketball leagues.”

Councilman Don Chaney said he wants to hear from his constituents regarding how they feel about the potential purchase.

“Is this a business the city should be involved in?” he asked.

During a presentation of a financial feasibility study, Lauren Livingston, president of The Sports Management Group, listed several assumptions related to a purchase of LaCamas Swim & Sport.

They included annual expenses ranging from $1.528 million to $1.658 million, a $100,000 building reserve fund and $50,000 for equipment replacement.

Revenue would be expected to range from $1.935 million to $2.15 million.

The net revenue is listed at $449,200 in Livingston’s report.

“Is it the best investment?” Councilman Greg Anderson asked. “It would create a debt and a risk.”

He said he wants to hear all sides, including the benefits of a purchase.

The City Council is expected to talk about a potential bond issuance tool at its next workshop Monday, July 7, at 4:30 p.m.

In April, council members approved an agreement with LaCamas Swim & Sport to operate the Camas municipal pools, in Crown Park, at 120 N.E. 17th Ave.