New lease makes a lot of sense for city,YMCA

The city and the YMCA of Marquette County seem on track to work out a lease extension which we think would benefit both parties.

The YMCA needs the city of Marquette to extend its current lease by five years in order to smooth the way for a big expansion – a nearly $3 million project.

The expansion would be funded through a long-term low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency, but before it releases the money, the USDA requires applicants to hold a lease on the property for five years beyond the life of the loan. That would require a 10-year extension from the city, pushing the Y’s lease to 2052.

The project will allow the organization to increase its physical size by 68 percent – doubling its current wellness center, creating a new health innovations suite and adding two new gyms.

It’s an important project for an organization that does excellent work to improve the area’s health and fitness.

We’re encouraged that city commissioners backed the expansion project during their meeting Monday. But we’re also pleased they want to take the occasion of reopening the lease to clarify some parts of the lease. That’s probably a good idea.

Some commissioners want city staff to work with the YMCA to nail down specifics: which party is responsible for heating and cooling maintenance, parking lot repairs upkeep and snow removal.

They’re not trivial questions. They are questions of potential future financial liability, and it’s wise for city officials to address them now, before they become points of contention.

Under the city’s new charter, the city commission must discuss a prospective lease agreement in two separate meetings before approving it. Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to move the lease to a second reading on June 24. In the meantime, city staff have been directed to hash out details of the lease.

There should be plenty of time to come up with a lease that is fair to both sides and allows the YMCA project to move forward.