Parks able to answer more questions about BAC purchase

As the purchase of the Bainbridge Athletic Club comes more into focus, more people seem to support it.

At least that was the case at Thursday’s BI Metropolitan Parks & Recreation District meeting.

District leaders have been able to find out more information about the club the past few weeks, so they’ve been better able to answer questions from the public. Most seemed to like what they heard.

“It’s a screaming good deal,” Hayes Gori said. “It just takes care of an awful lot of needs. More will have access to this place now.”

He said while years ago a survey showed the community wanted an indoor facility at Sakai Park, this is a much better opportunity financially. He said that would have cost taxpayers somewhere around $50 million. And it could be more now because of the increased cost of building materials. User fees will pay for the BAC.

Many were happy to hear the district plans to run it similar to how it’s been run by the BAC, especially current members there who were afraid they’d be overwhelmed by public users. Membership fees will remain the same.

“We’re working on things lesser than full membership cards,” district executive director Terry Lande said, adding they might not be used during prime time hours.

Loanne Harmeling wasn’t happy to hear that. “It’s not positive news for the general public.”

Lande added: “We’ll adjust as we go. We’ll keep the community in mind at all times.” For example, the public won’t have to pay a startup fee, which Lande says will be covered by taxes. A scholarship program will be available for those in need.

Another commenter said she hopes the district keeps its Kids Club, which takes care of children while their caregivers workout. She even suggested expanding it to the general public to bring more funds in to the facility.

“We’ll look at everything and see what makes sense,” Lande said.

Another public commenter asked why the financing had changed. It was explained that the new situation allows for 1.91% interest for 20 years, with the first five years interest only, plus no penalty for early payoffs. Close is planned for Aug. 31 but could occur earlier.

Jay Kinney, who has been a parks commissioner for 11 years, said he’s not concerned about financing. The BAC has been profitable for 40 years, and “we’re going to run it the same way.”

Lande said many things have changed from their original ideas three weeks ago because they’ve received a bunch of detailed information about BAC during that time. “We didn’t know what was there. We got to talk to people. Now we plan to run it very similarly,” he said.

He said the business was appraised at $4.4 million and the 53,328-square-foot building and 5.61 acres appraised at $8.858 million for a total of $13.25 million. The district is buying it for $100,000 less than that.

The facilities were inspected and received “glowing remarks,” Lande said, adding BAC employees will be offered jobs.

Dan Hamlin, park services director, said they paid special attention in investigating the roof, hvac, septic drainage, water and parking, the latter two because those were public concerns.

He said the two metal roofs are good for at least another 10 years, and the warranty is good. The flat roof is being replaced by the current owner now. The hvac system has been serviced regularly, is in good condition and should last another 10-12 years.

Older BAC members recall the septic system backing up sometimes, but when the pool was upgraded in 2018 that was improved 185% capacity. Water has never been an issue.

As for parking a traffic study was done in 2001 when the club had 2,300 members, and it was designed to handle that. Since the current membership is less than 1,000, there’s “plenty of room for growth,” Hamlin said.