City leaders agree to 60-day lease to re-open Destin YMCA

Matt Algarin
If approved by a court trustee, the Destin Family YMCA could re-open for a 60-day period thanks to city leaders in Destin and $30,000 in funding.

City leaders in Destin have agreed to breathe 60 days of life and $30,000 into the Destin Family YMCA.

"I will agree to 60 days," Councilman Jim Wood said. "If this comes back again, there will be a loud discussion."

 With a unanimous vote during Monday night’s Destin City Council meeting, the city has agreed to a short-term lease with the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, the properties current landlord, which would re-open the facility Nov.1 and keep it open until Dec. 31.

It will cost the city $30,000 to re-open the facility during this period, which the city will pull from its contingency fund. While they have agreed to the lease, the pact would still have to receive the blessing of a court trustee, who would release the YMCA from its current lease, as the YMCA has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Approval from the trustee could happen anytime between now and a Dec. 16 bankruptcy hearing.

The Destin Family YMCA, as well as the facilities in Crestview and Fort Walton Beach, closed its doors Oct. 10, given a tremendous financial burden that could not be overcome.

In 2005, the city entered into a $1.4 million operation and service agreement with the YMCA for the organization to construct and operate the community pool. In return for the funds, city residents would receive discounted memberships for a period of 10 years, which began on Jan. 9, 2006.

Judson Robertson, a local swimmer, pleaded with city leaders to keep the facility open.

“The YMCA, compared to many of the other pools, is a very nice pool to practice in,” he said. “It gives opportunities for young people to swim, as well as others.”

"I think it represents something for the city," he added.

After the 60-day period expires, City Manager Greg Kisela said it would be up to the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation to find the long-term solution to keeping the pool viable. The city will only be a tenant during this timeframe.

"This is Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation; they will have complete authority over who the long-term operator will be," Kisela said.

Destin Log Editor Matt Algarin attended the Oct. 20 Destin City Council meeting and provided a live play-by-play of what was discussed.

To read about the meeting, CLICK HERE.