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July 23, 2013

ULM agreement with YMCA extended

Last week, university officials met with YMCA board members to discuss the future of the Lake C. Oxford Natatorium at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

The two parties recently agreed to begin the process of extending the current cooperative agreement for 60 days, pending approval by the UL System Board of Supervisors and other appropriate agencies.

During the 60-day extension, YMCA will be exploring a permanent solution that will allow them to maintain continued operation of the natatorium.

The university will continue to pay the utilities through the 60-day extension.

This extension will provide the YMCA with an opportunity to develop a long-term business agreement that will include a strategic plan to improve the facility, grow membership, and become financially self-sustaining.

ULM Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Wayne Brumfield said, "I am pleased that the YMCA has had the opportunity to operate the facility for the past 18 months. Now, they have more time to develop a plan that will encompass corporate sponsorships and additional community support."

The YMCA and its aquatic staff assumed operational control over the natatorium on Jan. 17, 2012 and entered an 18-month contract, which was later extended until July 31, 2013. ULM retained ownership of the natatorium and assisted with preventive maintenance, insurance, and utility costs.

The original agreement was designed to give the YMCA 18 months to sustain the operation of the natatorium, become self-sufficient without dependence on ULM student fees, and increase student usage.

In a 2013 student election and referendum vote, the student body voted to redirect the natatorium fee to other student services, including scholarships.

As part of the original agreement, ULM provided an estimated $40K between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013; approximately $90K in utilities in 2012-2013; $25K in maintenance and repair fees between Jan. 17, 2012 and June 30, 2012; and an additional $36K in utilities during that same time period.

In total, the university funded approximately $190K in support of the natatorium.

ULM also paid student membership for those who used the facility.

Another cost consideration for the university is the current condition of the natatorium—which has an outdated HVAC system—and the required maintenance of the boilers, the chiller, and the roof.

Brumfield said, "While we understand the importance of the natatorium, we are currently faced with declining state revenues. This new agreement provides an excellent opportunity for the YMCA to embrace the natatorium and make it their own."

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