Editorial: Council dives in
The Worthington City Council made a bold move Wednesday morning. In doing so, we feel confident it acted with the best interest of the community in mind.
Sure, it is easy to second-guess the city's decision to build an aquatics center next to the new Worthington Area YMCA -- to be located on the Minnesota West Community and Technical College campus -- and we know that the decision was not one made without a great deal of difficulty and consternation. We are also well aware that there are other significant city interests and needs, such as a community center and senior center, still waiting on the table.
We are hopeful that City of Worthington leaders will work to address these issues, as they have been talked about too long to be continually put off. At the same time, however, it should be duly noted that discussions with the YMCA have been ongoing for at least a decade, and that the city's outdoor pool has been deteriorating all through that time. By electing to build a city-owned aquatics center, the facility will be open to all (and not just Y members); by leasing it to the Y, it will be run by a truly qualified organization and staff.
The city also deserves commendation for structuring its $4.5 million aquatics center deal so that it will essentially pay itself back over 20 years, mostly with money already budgeted for pool-related expenditures. (The council resolved to borrow against proceeds from the sale of Worthington Regional Hospital.) In other words, the aquatics center will be built with little or no effect on the city's overall financial standing.
Again, e are cognizant the city has many needs that we hope will be met down the road. But by building an city facility that will allow anyone pool access year-round -- and not just during the summer -- people of all ages win. The deal also represents a truly collaborative effort -- after all, without the city's participation, the Y's drive to build a new facility on its own would be significantly hampered. It's this kind of teamwork that's truly necessary in these economic times.