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LAKE WALES – The Lake Wales City Commission received six bank bids to borrow money to purchase the Lake Wales YMCA. City staff has chosen to borrow $900,000 over 15 years from CenterState Bank to purchase and renovate the YMCA on Burns Avenue near the high school.

City commissioners debated several ways of improving recreation options for residents last fiscal year. Since non-profit YMCA facilities nationwide have been struggling to compete with commercial gyms, and since the YMCA already had a swimming pool and a gym, city commissioners decided last year that it would cost less money to purchase the YMCA facility than to build a new, standalone city pool and gym for residents to use.

The building itself will be purchased for around $565,000, with the remaining amount of money being borrowed used to renovate the facility.

Renovations should be complete sometime in 2020, city staff said. Once complete, the city will own the facility, but it will continue to be managed by YMCA staff.

Lake Wales Commissioner Al Goldstein asked city staff how much debt the city currently is managing. Lake Wales Finance Director Dorothy Abbott said the City of Lake Wales currently manages around $30 million in loans, most of which are low-interest state loans used to upgrade utilities infrastructure.

Abbott said the city has enough revenue to make loan payments and that if the city commission wanted to borrow money to purchase the YMCA, the city could afford to do so.

Lake Wales City Manager Ken Fields said that impact fees associated with residential growth could pay for some of the loan payments and that he did not think it would be necessary to raise property taxes to pay for the purchase.

The first loan payment is due April 1, 2020.

Contact Charles A. Baker III at cbaker@d-r.media.