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RYTAC Closure Update: What is Really Going On via Sault Ste. Marie Ratepayers Meetings

Anthony Bumbaco for local2 sault ste. marie
September 28th, 2012 at 2:46pm

RYTAC TENNIS 1 Back in April was press release came out that RYTAC or the Rotary/YMCA Tennis and Aquatic Centre would be closed because it was deemed to be “financially unsustainable.”

However, on Wednesday September 28,2012 a group that is calling themselves the RYTAC supporters led by Frances Sewards met with the Sault Ratepayers association led by Ted Johnson to discuss the matter with a pending trial date of Thursday October 4th set to determine if the property can be legally sold.

According to Sewards, the YMCA acquired operation of RYTAC in March 1969 in trust from Rotary under the terms that Rotary would get ownership of the property while the YMCA would run it. Specifically, the terms stated that the YMCA must run the facility for the purpose of tennis and sailing so that the youth of the community would have access to it. If these terms were not met, Rotary would take over the property and if sold assets would be determined in court.

Fast forward to 2004 when RYTAC was in a terrible position and in danger of being closed. The condition of the site was deteriorating and a group led by Sewards approached the YMCA, at that time it was primarily being used for day camps, however, it was unclear if the money from those was going back into the facility.

A joint committee was then formed and a standing board committee was formed and developed a long term plan for the site and by November had created a proposal while the YMCA agreed to negotiate and find partners for the site within the community.

However, the standing committee was not present to discuss the proposal at a meeting and the YMCA board discussed it and no recommendations were forwarded.

By 2006, the facility had redeemed itself and was up to 160 full members, and was primarily run by a volunteer group that took care of the maintenance and upkeep of the facility.

In July of 2012, with the site now in danger of being sold once again the offspring of two of the original trustees in which the site was handed over have put forth an injunction to prevent the sale of RYTAC. After the date of the hearing has been changed a few times, it has been set for next Thursday.

The purpose of the meeting with the Ratepayers association was threefold. First of all, the two trustees, Ken Miller and Karen McAndrew, have major concerns with legal fees as is and are currently working with lawyers pro bono. Secondly, the RYTAC supports do not believe the building should be sold at all and should remain in trust for the use of the youth within the community. Third, they need help in determining a plan should the courts rule in favour of the legality to sell RYTAC.

Adding fuel to the fire, one individual in attendance who has inside knowledge of the ongoing negotiations has discovered that the site is in fact salvageable. A group recently approached President Myers of the Algoma University board of governors and Dr. Commons president of Sault College about a plan to help take over both RYTAC and Searchmont.

According to the proposed idea, RYTAC would be run under the insurance of the University while being used under the terms of the original trust agreement while facilitating programs for both the college and university and provide personel to run both RYTAC and Searchmont. But this prosposal, while promising was outright rejected by Wayne Greco, the president and CEO of the YMCA.

Now with the issue set to reach court in just a few days, the RYTAC supporters are reaching out to the community in hopes that community support, potential members and the business community will step up to the plate to prevent what could be a catastrophic occurrence in the city.

Presumable the YMCA is looking to get money for RYTAC, a site they never even paid for in the first place, moreover, if it is sold one cannot guarantee it will maintain its purpose should the new buyer choose to rezone the property through city council and be successful.

The SSMRA and RYTAC supports hope that the community will fill the courtroom on October 4th. I did some research but was unable to find the exact time the case will be heard. It is a very emotional issue for all of those that are involved and a very interesting case at hand.

What is disappointing is how so many people were kept in the dark for so long about the sale and that slowly but surely the site has deteriorated once again to this point. But in the end it will be interesting to see how things play out next week and if the YMCA and Rotary have the legal right to the sale of RYTAC.


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