The Brooks Family YMCA has been in the works since 2006 and secured a ground lease from the city to build in McIntire Park in 2008. Seven years later, the still-unbuilt facility faces continued opposition from members of the Charlottesville City Council as amendments to the ground lease were introduced earlier this month.
In a 3-2 vote on September 21, City Council approved the YMCA’s request for a change that would dictate that if the YMCA defaults on its $12 million bank loan from Sonabank, the bank would hold the lease and be responsible for finding a new tenant for the space if necessary.
Although the facility’s use-agreement dictates that a new tenant would have to maintain a nonprofit community recreation facility consistent with the YMCA’s plans, Councilor Dede Smith said at a September 8 meeting that she is dissatisfied with the amendments.
According to the Daily Progress, Smith said, “Once it’s with the bank, it’s not clear what will happen to its ownership and we will have no say about it except for a fairly minimal level of oversight. We’ve [potentially] lost any control we might have had over who operates in our public park.”
Smith also voiced concerns that the Brooks Family YMCA would be unnecessary, citing outdated membership and program revenue projections, and pointing out that several other recreational facilities have been erected since the project was approved for a ground lease in 2008.
Councilor Bob Fenwick said he was concerned when Mayor Satyendra Huja tabled the scheduled discussion of the YMCA’s financial plan hours before City Council met September 8.
At least one council member remained confident in the plans for the YMCA. Councilor Kristin Szakos went so far as to call some of Smith’s apprehensions “fear mongering,” and said she was “embarrassed” by them, suggesting that these concerns should not put a halt to the project’s advancement, the Progress reports.
Updated 12:48pm September 22 with council vote