Tweaked 125 Live agreement headed to council

·4 min read

Jul. 30—ROCHESTER — A revised agreement between the city and 125 Live will be reviewed Monday.

The issue is returning to the Rochester City Council six weeks after members asked for more discussion of concerns raised by two youth swimming organizations, regarding dedicated use of the Rec Center's warm-water pool.

While the 125 Live agreement covers a variety of issues, from providing free space for the city's AccessABLE Recreation program to funding renovations to incomplete space, the focus has largely centered on access to the warm-water pool, which was added when the Rec Center expanded to provide senior center facilities.

The initial proposal dedicated 70 hours a week to 125 Live programs, leaving 32 hours available for Rec Center rentals, which include youth programs and private events.

The revised agreement shifts two hours each Saturday morning from dedicated 125 Live use to be available for the Rec Center. It makes way for the Rochester Swim Club to rent the pool and provide swim lessons during that time.

"The agreement has been over two years in the making with a lot of give and take," Rochester Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman wrote in an email provided to the council following added discussion and review. "The Park Board and Park and Recreation Leadership Team are confident that the agreement represents the best option to provide programs and services to the community made possible by this state-of-the-art facility."

The Park Board reviewed the agreement and proposed change during its July 12 meeting, but did not take an official vote, since final approval is a council decision.

Prior to the Park Board review, city staff and representatives from 125 Live and the youth swimming organizations met to discuss concerts related to the original document.

Rochester Swimming Inc. was represented by Pat Carroll and Brad Thatcher, and Rochester Swim Club CEO Autumn Kappes represented her organization during the June 27 meeting.

125 Live was represented by Executive Director Sylwia Bujak Oliver and Board President Matt Hogan.

While discussed by many involved with raising concerns, the revised agreement isn't supported by everyone.

In an email to city staff, Rochester Swimming Inc. President Bill Shaughnessy said he objects to the revised agreement, citing concerns related to the fact that 125 Live doesn't pay for pool usage, but youth organizations are required to pay rent for Rec Center facilities.

"The swim club continues to pay the Rec Center approximately $200,000/year in rental fees for the warm water pool and the 50-meter pool," he wrote in the email, estimating that the dedicated use by 125 Live would cost more than $172,000.

He said the proposed agreement "gives the farm away" with a $108,000 subsidy and free use of the pool.

During the July 12 Park Board meeting, Rochester Deputy City Administrator Parrish said waiving of 125 Live pool fees is part of the city's partnership to provide senior services to the community. He pointed out the agreement also provides free access to 125 Live space for the city's AccessABLE Recreation program, which cost the city .

Park Board member Mark Bilderback said the alternative would put the senior program and other related expenses back on the city.

"If we didn't have them, we would be paying to run those programs," he said.

During the June 20 City Council meeting, 125 Live Operations Director Ken Baerg said a review of similar-sized cities that run municipal senior programs shows they spend between $2.2 million and $4.6 million a year.

According to 125 Live's federal tax forms, its expenses in 2021 were nearly $1.2 million.

In addition to adjusting the pool schedule, revisions to the agreement with 125 Live call for holding quarterly meetings with all organizations regularly using Recreation Center space to review calendar of events and discuss operations.

The City Council will be asked to approve the updated agreement during its 7 p.m. meeting Monday in council chambers of the city-county Government Center.

Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of Aug. 1 include:

* City Council study session, 3:30 p.m. Monday In council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. The meeting will livestream at

www.rochestermn.gov/meetings/council-meetings

and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.

* City Council, 7 p.m. Monday in council chambers of the Government Center. The meeting will livestream at

www.rochestermn.gov/meetings/council-meetings

and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.

* Physical Development Committee, 8 a.m. Tuesday in conference room 4 of the Government Center.

* Administrative Committee, 8 a.m. Tuesday in board chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE.

* Board of County Commissioners, 9 a.m. Tuesday in the board chambers of the Government Center.

* Health, Housing and Human Services Committee, 10 a.m. Wednesday in conference room 2 for the city-county Government Center.

* Planning Commission, 6:30 p.m. Thursday in board chambers of the Government Center.

* School Board, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom of the Edison Building, 615 Seventh St. SW.