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May 28, 2012

Virginia’s top court to hear YMCA case

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DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, May 28, 2012

The Virginia Supreme Court has scheduled a June 7 hearing date for a pair of lawsuits seeking to block the Piedmont Family YMCA’s aquatics center from being built on the west side of Charlottesville’s McIntire Park.
 
YMCA-Slide1
Artist's rendering of the planned YMCA (Source: VMDO Architects/Piedmont Family YMCA)
The Charlottesville Area Fitness Club Operators Association filed separate suits against Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville in 2010, claiming that each had violated Virginia’s procurement rules.
 

Related stories by Charlottesville Tomorrow

City to advertise lease agreement for McIntire Park YMCA, September 18, 2007, by Sean Tubbs

Council approves McIntire Park lease for YMCA, December 18, 2007, by Sean Tubbs

County approves use agreement for McIntire YMCA; pool details to be ironed out, January 10, 2008, by Sean Tubbs

Fitness group sues Albemarle and Charlottesville over YMCA, May 13, 2010, by Sean Tubbs

YMCA officials hopeful for summer construction, pending lawsuit, February 19, 2011, by Sean Tubbs

Testimony heard in case against lease for YMCA fitness center, April 2, 2011, by Sean Tubbs

Judge dismisses second YMCA lawsuit; Fitness clubs considering appeal, April 21, 2011, by Sean Tubbs

VA Supreme Court to hear YMCA case of fitness clubs vs. Albemarle, August 22, 2011, by Brian Wheeler

 

The City Council awarded a $1-a-year ground lease to the YMCA in December 2007. The organization developed plans to build a 70,000-square-foot facility and received approval from the city Planning Commission.
 
However, the lawsuit against the city alleges that the request for proposals unlawfully excluded for-profit companies from submitting bids.
Judge Cheryl Higgins dismissed the city case in April 2011. In her ruling, she said the city was within its rights to limit who could bid on the project.
 
The city has budgeted $1.25 million toward construction of the aquatics facility. Albemarle will contribute $2.03 million.
The suit against Albemarle alleges that the county does not have the legal authority under state law to accept a donation for a specific purpose. The case against Albemarle was dismissed in November 2010.
 
Both cases were appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court.
 
The Charlottesville Area Fitness Club Operators Association is made up of ACAC Fitness & Wellness Center and Gold’s Gym. A third club, Total Performance Sports and Fitness, dropped out of the lawsuit after the initial rulings at the local level.
 
The YMCA had hoped to break ground on the project last fall and was close to awarding a $14 million construction contract. However, banks would not allow financing on the project until the legal uncertainty is resolved.
 
YMCA officials are planning what to do in case the court rules in their favor, even though the organization is not directly a party to either lawsuit.
 
“We will be doing the preliminary gearing up before the ruling rather than waiting and doing nothing until the ruling,” said Kurt Krueger, chairman of the Piedmont Family YMCA.
 
Krueger said he is hopeful the successful bidder will keep his price, but construction prices are always in flux.
 
YMCA-Slide2
Source: VMDO Architects/Piedmont Family YMCA
“It would not appear, based on the markets, that construction costs have gotten significantly lower (especially with fuel prices going up), so if he would hold the price, we would probably go forward with him rather than rebid,” Krueger said.
 
If the bidder does not agree to keep the original price, Krueger said the YMCA may choose to start the bidding process all over again.
 
Rulings in both cases are expected to be issued before the start of the court’s September session.

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