YMCA may take over Fenton Recreation Center, which is at a $1 million deficit

FENTON, Mo. — The Riverchase Rec Center in the town of Fenton could have new management by the end of the year. The YMCA could take over the operations of the city’s recreation center.

“It looks like an opportunity to make better use of the facility,” Fenton Mayor Bob Brasses said. “This facility was built without any other community centers and over the years they just started popping up and more and more competition so the board kind of felt that we might need some help. help for that.”

This is why the Y could intervene.

“We were contacted a few months ago by the Town of Fenton to ask if we would be interested in exploring the possibility of partnering with them to operate the Riverchase Rec Center.” said Tim Helm, President and CEO of Gateway Region YMCA.

The Y and the city are in preliminary negotiations.

“The city would continue to own it and continue to partner with us, but we would provide management support, we would manage it and manage it on behalf of the City of Fenton,” Helm said.

He said the model would be the same as Y’s Carondelet and O’Fallon Park locations, which are in partnership with the City of St. Louis.

According to the City of Fenton’s annual budget, Riverchase operates with an average deficit of $517,000/year, based on 2018-21 data. In 2022, the city’s budget says it expects to lose $1.43 million from the recreation center.

According to city data, there was a deficit of $477,989 in 2018 and $658,417 in 2019, which were pre-pandemic numbers. During the pandemic in 2020, the deficit was 520,745. In 2021, it nearly doubled to a loss of 932,434.

Mayor Brasses said it was common and almost every town was probably losing money in their recreation centers. During this time. Helm said the deficit is a concern, but he thinks the Y can help the bottom line.

“It’s a great facility that is really underutilized at this point, and with our experience and skills in membership and programs, we really believe we can increase usage and reduce the financial subsidy that the city ​​offers,” Helm said.

At Thursday night’s virtual council of aldermen meeting for the town of Fenton, the mayor directed council to create a group of aldermen to help review all possible contracts and report back to the council of aldermen and the city.

Helm said contract negotiations will take place when any rate changes or facility changes at the recreation center are discussed. Helm also said he was early in the process, but he felt that if all goes well the plan could be finalized in the second half of 2022. The contract is expected to be approved by the YMCA Board and Council. of directors of the town of Fenton.

If approved, it would be the first YMCA to serve the Fenton area. Currently, there are 23 facilities in the Gateway region of the YMCA. It would also be the first time the area YMCA would take over an existing facility.

Members of the recreation complex on Thursday night had mixed feelings about the possibility of the Y taking over management.

A member of the recreation center said he was not happy to hear that the Y could take over. Another member said they were fine with the change, as long as the rates stay the same.

“We have people who have been with Riverchase for a long time, who deeply love the place and don’t want to see any change. And then we have other fans who are the exact opposite,” Mayor Brasses said.

Another member said he would like to see more community members using it. It is the same wish as Mayor Brasses.

To see the city budget, visit: https://www.fentonmo.org/DocumentCenter/View/8698/2022-Approved-Budget

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