Updated 11:08 a.m., March 18 to include the latest information on negotiations between the city and Imperial Beach Little League.
The City Council next week will discuss whether to give its Sports Park, skate park and athletic fields to the South Bay Family YMCA for a $1 a year lease.
Though Imperial Beach City Hall has discussed turning over the facility to a private service provider for almost a year, this would be the first public hearing on the matter.
Staff will present City Council with four options between proposals made by the Imperial Beach Little League, YMCA and city staff.
Proposals and counterproposals have been made. Negotiations between the city, Imperial Beach Little League (IBLL) and YMCA that started last December are ongoing.
On Friday the IBLL proposed that they pay no per player or field use fees suggested by the YMCA, the city pay for all utilities and the IBLL pay no more than $3,500 a year for maintenance or repairs, according to Assistant City Manager Greg Wade.
Money to run the Sports Park makes up about 1.2 percent of the city’s annual budget, according to administrative services director Kathleen Von Achen. City staff and City Manager Gary Brown on March 6 recommended Sports Park be cut from the city’s 2013-14 budget.
The city plans to turn over operation of the facilities to the YMCA in exchange for more sports leagues, classes and services for local residents as well as more than $100,000 in savings.
That’s not the way everyone sees the deal.
The Imperial Beach Little League, Imperial Beach Girls Softball, Sports Park employees and teens who frequent the youth center have told the city and IB Patch the change would put fees out of reach for some residents and could take away a place to be—a safe haven.
In comparison to the current $25 annual fee for users of the gym charged by the city, under YMCA control, young people and their families would be charged for use of the skate park, gym and little league and softball fields.
Children ages 5-11 may be charged up to $96 and youth 12-17 could be charged $150 a year for membership fees, according to South County Family YMCA Executive Director Tina Williams .
No membership fee is currently proposed for adults.
Skate park users who do not purchase an annual membership would be charged a day rate.
Baseball and softball players would be charged $25 per player per season.
Under the YMCA's proposal, use of lights would also cost $25 an hour and the leagues would be required to give 20 percent of all concession stand and other proceeds raised to the YMCA.
The city has offered to absorb lighting and concession stand fees for both leagues, a cost estimated to run the city about $15,000 a year.
Other costs to the city to complete the turnover include an estimated $54,000 to resurface the gym floor and $80,000 to fix the Sports Park facility roof.
Fees will not be finalized until the City Council determines whether IB wants to sign an agreement with the YMCA, Williams said.
Changes to the fee structure would not require city review, Williams said.
To join the nearby Border View Family YMCA, people ages 13-23 pay about $250 a year in membership fees and a one-time $50 joining fee, according to the YMCA website. Children 12 and under pay a flat $70.
Nearly one in five IB residents lives below the poverty line, compared to averages of 12.3 percent and 13.7 percent in San Diego County and California, respectively, according to 2010 Census data.
“Our fees are based on what it costs to operate the programs, and then we always provide scholarships for kids, adults or seniors who can’t afford it so we try to serve as many people as we possibly can in the community,” Williams told IB Patch.
YMCA management would mean the facility may remain open for longer hours and weekends, she said. Operating hours and weekends have been cut under current city leadership.
The elimination of redevelopment agencies was the primary reason the city says it has to forfeit control of the Sports Park.
“Though the effort to balance the city service and infrastructure needs with adequate administrative and staff support in the face of limited revenue has always been a challenge for the city, the loss of redevelopment greatly exacerbated the challenge,” a staff report said.
Information provided by the city in the March 20 agenda says the Sports Park costs the city $200,000 a year. City Manager Gary Brown has also repeatedly quoted a $200,000 savings figure.
However, following efforts to increase revenue and reduce costs last year, Von Achen, the city’s administrative services director, determined the cost is much lower.
In a review of the city’s 2013-14 budget earlier this month, Von Achen said the Sports Park costs IB $144,000 annually. If the city absorbs annual lighting costs, savings would be reduced to $129,000.
In part by cutting Sports Park staff and fees, the city anticipates a $178,000 surplus in the coming fiscal year, Von Achen said.
Before a new budget was adopted last June, the city started looking for a private entity to operate the Sports Park.
The YMCA was selected after nearby Calvary Church was considered incapable of meeting the city’s demands and the Boys and Girls Club of South County would cost the city an estimated $180,000.
The Boys & Girls Club ran the facility until 1998.
Boys & Girls Club of South County CEO Ken Blinsman disputes the cost presented by the city.
"The Boys & Girls Club proposal would have cost the city $50,000," Blinsman told IB Patch.
The city has spent $1.7 million in improvements to the Sports Park facility since 2000, primarily in redevelopment funds, according to a staff report.
To see the staff report, proposals and counterproposals and a list of increased offerings if the YMCA takes over the facility, see the attached PDF.
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