Friday, June 21, 2024

County seeks to clarify who must fund fix at YMCA: taxpayers, or the Y


County officials are working to figure out who is legally responsible for repairing damage caused by washout on the grounds of the Hood County YMCA.

The county owns the $10 million facility, which was approved by voters in 2012, and leases it to the YMCA for $1 per year.

The arrangement was part of a long-standing partnership that brought the YMCA to Hood County.

The Y used to be in a county-owned building on Harbor Lakes Drive, but as its membership grew a larger facility was needed. That’s why a new building was built at 1475 James Road near Acton Middle School.

There is a contract about who is responsible for what but interpreting the wording in contracts is sometimes tricky. That may be especially true with the county/YMCA contract since the problem is outside, rather than inside, the building.

The need for clarification is why the Commissioners Court, at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 24, voted to table the issue so that the county attorney’s office can review the document and advise the court on how to proceed.

Neither County Attorney Matt Mills nor any of the members of the Commissioners Court were in office when the agreement was forged.

No representatives of the YMCA were present during the almost 20-minute-long discussion.

The discourse began with Human Resources Director Melissa Welborn and Maintenance Director Jay Riley requesting direction from the court before proceeding with any bids for work that the county might not be legally responsible for.

Riley estimated the cost of the repairs to be about $12,000. He said that there is about $8,000 worth of erosion damage and that the cost of re-sodding will run about $4,000.

Riley expressed concern for the safety of children at the site, especially when warmer weather brings an increase in outdoor activities. He wondered aloud whether the county, which carries the insurance on the facility, will be liable if a child breaks a leg because of trenches caused by erosion.

In response to questions raised by Precinct 4 Commissioner Dave Eagle, Welborn indicated that the YMCA does not appear to have met its yearly reporting requirements to the county.

“No doubt we need to be a little bit more hands-on,” said Welborn, who also was not with the county at the time the agreement went into effect. She said she suspects that the ball was dropped by both entities.

Riley said that he has never included repairs or maintenance for the property in his department’s budget.

“I need to know where I stop and they start,” he said, referring to who is responsible for what.

Riley and County Judge Ron Massingill indicated a desire to see any maintenance records that the Y might have. Massingill asked Mills and Assistant County Attorney Robert Carter how such records, or a lack of records, might affect which entity is responsible for the erosion repairs.

Carter, who has viewed the contract, said “there’s not really a big penalty” if the Y is at fault for a problem that Riley said has “probably been going on ever since the building’s been there.”

The matter is expected to be taken up again at the court’s next regular meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 14.