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Article updated: 11/15/2012 5:18 AM

Vernon Hills parks to offer $2 million for YMCA building

By Mick Zawislak

An intense effort by two government agencies to keep the Central Lake YMCA in Vernon Hills open is in the homestretch, with a pending purchase agreement for the facility at 700 Lakeview Parkway nearing completion.

Although threatened with an Oct. 31 closing because of financial difficulties, the YMCA has remained open after the village and Vernon Hills Park District reached an agreement in principle with the Y.

An initial $1.4 million offer for the facility was rejected, but the parties have been negotiating since. The purchase price at this point is $2 million.

On Tuesday, the village board and the park district board of commissioners approved an agreement between the two entities that outlines the terms of a loan that will allow the park district to buy the building.

Under those terms, the village will lend the park district just over $2 million at no interest in a 13-year pact.

No payments will be due for three years and then they will be divided in equal installments over the remaining decade.

"We're the banker," Village Manager Mike Allison said. The funds will come from village reserves, estimated at about $20 million

"In essence, they're the bank we're getting the mortgage from," said David Doerhoefer, park board president.

Since the district will be the actual purchaser, the park board also has to approve a purchase agreement with the YMCA. That is listed for action on the agenda of the board's meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. today at the Laschen Community Center, 635 Aspen Drive.

Doerhoefer said the village will be lending the district $2,025,000, with $25,000 being made available for work on the building "so we don't have to dig too deep into our coffers initially."

Motors on the pool, locker room ventilation, door openers and roof work are among the items that will have to be addressed as the park district continues its "due diligence" of the nearly 12-year old building.

Doerhoefer described the loan agreement as being "very generous" in not requiring payments immediately, but said village officials agree it will take time to improve the facility and programming to recapture lost members. Another major thrust will be to publicize the fact that a state-certified day care center is housed there.

If the purchase agreement with the Y is approved, the park district would give the organization $100,000 in earnest money. But there is some wiggle room as it can be reclaimed until Dec. 3.

A closing could occur by Dec. 31.

Until then, it will remain open as the YMCA. Membership costs will remain the same. Current employees will have to apply to the park district for jobs .

"Our intention is to offer most the opportunity to come back," Doerhoefer said.

The Northern Lake County YMCA in Waukegan also was scheduled to close Oct. 31, but was given a stay until Jan. 1 to allow the community to explore fundraising options.

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