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Central Lake Y Could Be Bought By Village, Run By Vernon Hills Park District

Residents who spoke at a special board meeting Oct. 22 are supportive of the move.

Vernon Hills resident Mark Alexander can be counted among those who would like to see the village and the Vernon Hills Park District save the Central Lake YMCA.

"I'd like to see it happen," said Alexander.

A member of the Central Lake Y for the past 10 years, Alexander spoke out in favor of saving the facility at a special park district meeting Oct. 22.

"I'm for the village and park district being involved," Alexander told the board. "I think there are some issues with the YMCA; it's not perfect. But I like it and it's convenient and reasonably-priced. It's been a real asset."

Vernon Hills resident Greg Scharf echoed those sentiments. He has been a member of the YMCA for the past three or four years and said he and his wife use the facility's pool.

"I'm thankful for that good use of that facility," said Scharf.

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The reason for the Oct. 31 closure, as stated in a press released on the Lake County Family YMCA website, is "due to insufficient financial resources to sustain operations on a long-term basis."

Doerhoefer said one of the scenarios being considered would have the village using reserve funds to purchase the YMCA, while the park district would operate the facility. The park district would then, over a set period of time, work toward buying the facility from the village.

"We're in a partnership with the village. We're in this together," said Doerhoefer.

At the special meeting Oct. 22, the park board met with YMCA officials, along with Village Manager Mike Allison and Village Trustee James Schultz, to gather financial information about the facility. Information about operating costs, Doerhoefer said, is crucial because park district and village officials want to make sure purchasing the facility would be a sound investment.

The board moved into closed session at about 5:50 p.m. to discuss the financial issues and returned to open session—and subsequently adjourned the meeting—at 8:05 p.m.

"No final action will be taken on this matter at this meeting," Doerhoefer said.

Another meeting regarding the YMCA is slated for 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Vernon Hills Village Hall. Items on the village board's agenda include: discussion on the consideration of the purchase of the YMCA property in Vernon Hills; approval and passage of an ordinance granting authorization to the village manager to negotiate, enter into and execute an agreement to purchase the YMCA property; and discussion and authorization for negotiation of an intergovernmental agreement between the village and the Vernon Hills Park District.

"It's all predicated on if the facility goes up for sale," said Doerhoefer. "And it's got to make financial sense."

Doerhoefer said in addition to the handful of residents who expressed their support at the Oct. 22 meeting, he has received calls from others who were unable to attend the meeting.

"The only reaction we've received from any resident has been very positive," said Doerhoefer.

Capital Campaign

In the meantime, the Lake County Family YMCA is in the midst of a capital campaign in an effort to raise between $5 million and $8 million by Oct. 31 to keep the Vernon Hills and Waukegan facilities open.

Interim YMCA CEO Hal Katz said after Monday night's meeting that about $28,000 has been raised so far.

"It keeps growing by the day," said Katz.

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