The Whitehouse City Council could select the agency it wants to manage the city’s recreation center as early as today. The Council is scheduled to review the three proposals submitted to run the recreation center and authorize contract negotiations during its regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Agencies had until April 3 to apply. The city of Whitehouse, the YMCA and Crossroads Church in Tyler submitted applications to run the recreation center. The YMCA has managed the facility for the past 16 years with the city of Whitehouse providing a $40,000 per year subsidy to the nonprofit organization.
However, last year, the city’s contract offer to the YMCA in the fall did not include this subsidy, because City Manager Aaron Smith said the municipality could not afford it. After the YMCA rejected that offer, the city decided to seek out other entities to manage the recreation center. The YMCA’s contract to run the facility expires Sept. 30. Whitehouse City Manager Aaron Smith said the best-case scenario for the city would be to find someone to operate it at little to no cost to the city.
CITY OF WHITEHOUSE APPLICATION
In the city’s application, which Smith prepared, he estimates the city would have to put in $177,000 in the facility the first year of operation, almost $100,000 the second year, more than $76,000 the third year and about $54,000 the fourth year. The remainder of the revenue would come from recreation center memberships. The city would provide afterschool programs or childcare, youth sports through its Parks and Recreation Department and fitness opportunities for adults.
The center would shift to a 24/7 operation with members entering through the use of a key fob when staff members are not there. The city has worked through anticipated membership fees for Whitehouse residents and nonresidents, but it’s unclear how these anticipated feescompare to fees proposed by other applicants.
The YMCA’s proposal requests a $30,000 per year subsidy to the nonprofit. That’s a $10,000 decrease from its previous subsidy. YMCA of Tyler’s President/CEO Jeremy Bumgardner said the nonprofit organization has made a significant financial contribution to Whitehouse’s recreation facility and the town for the past 16 years and they hope to continue overseeing the facility. A big part of the work the organization does there involves youth sports. As a recent example, he said some 250 children participate in youth soccer games through the Whitehouse YMCA.
“Our YMCA conducting those programs brings people to town to spend money, whether it’s lunch (or gasoline),” Bumgardner said. The YMCA offers 30 programs out of its Whitehouse location and Bumgardner said they would continue to offer the same programs if given the opportunity. In addition, they are open to enhancing their operation, possibly going to a 24-hour model.
“I’m enhancing what I’m going to offer, and I’m expanding the options people have and I’m asking for less from the city and I believe that’s a pretty good game plan,” Bumgardner said.