Backers of the proposed outdoor public pool and lazy river in Butte have picked up one of the biggest endorsements they could hope for — the Butte Family YMCA.
From the day county officials put several pool or waterpark options on the table more than 14 months ago, one of the most frequently voiced concerns from residents has been a potential financial hit on the YMCA and its year-round indoor pool operations.
But a vote by the organization's board last week and statements Monday by that board's president and its chief executive officer say — in essence — "no worries."
"We feel there is no harm, and it's a good thing for our community to have such a neat, outdoor pool," said Butte YMCA CEO Phillip Borup, who agreed to do a testimonial supporting the pool.
It says in part that the YMCA is "pleased to work with BSB as a partner to make sure residents are safe and have fun in the water all summer long."
Board President Paul Babb, who was Butte-Silver Bow's chief executive from 2005 to 2012, said the board voted unanimously to back the pool last week.
Voters county-wide will decide June 7 whether to support a $7.2 million bond issue to pay most of the construction costs plus $350,000 a year in annual operating and maintenance expenses. Another $1.5 million is being raised from public and private sources to pay for amenities including slides and lazy river.
YMCA officials had initial concerns an outdoor pool and water park would jeopardize a $40,000 payment the county gives it each year so the public can use its indoor pool.
But county officials have stressed, especially in recent weeks, that the $40,000 payment will continue. They also have pledged to let the YMCA handle the hiring and management of lifeguards for the outdoor waterpark if voters approve it.
Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive Matt Vincent, in an April 28 letter to Borup, put those pledges in writing and said the lifeguard arrangement would be based "on a fair market agreement of services and management between both parties."
He also committed — dependent on successful passage of the bond — to YMCA access of the outdoor pool and programming at no cost.
"This access and programming will be planned in conjunction and cooperation with Butte-Silver Bow's Parks and Recreation Division at (agreed-upon) hours," Vincent's letter said.
Babb said the programs could include such things as swim lessons or water aerobics for seniors.
Borup said he has met several times with Parks Director J.P. Gallagher, and he talked with Matt Vincent a couple of weeks ago. They just wanted to make sure YMCA officials knew it would be a partnership, he said.
"The YMCA doesn't operate on a real big surplus," Borup said. "It almost operates check to check, so any little hiccups can be problematic for us. We feel good about this."
Vincent named Borup to the county Parks and Recreation Board last week to fill a vacancy. He said the YMCA's endorsement of the outdoor pool was a "big boost for answering folks' questions and their concerns."
"We have had a good working relationship with the YMCA, and I think we want to continue that through Phil's being named to the board," Vincent said Monday. "That will run the gamut for how we support them in their existing programs and facilities and how we can expand that with or without the construction of a pool."
Babb says a private group of pool supporters called "Friends of Stodden Park" can use the YMCA in advertisements if they wish.