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City, aquatic club compromise on lane fees

A sign stands outside the Mitchell Recreation Center prior to construction of the $8 million addition to install an indoor aquatic facility. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Compromise was king at the Mitchell Parks and Recreation Board meeting on Thursday.

In an effort to be fair to the Mitchell Aquatic Club, the group that pledged $1 million to support the city's $8 million aquatic center currently under construction, the board approved a fee agreement for use of the structure in 2018.

Under the agreement, the city will charge $10 per lane, per hour for use of the indoor pool and $1,200 for each swim meet. And while board member Ryan Tupper acknowledged the MAC members "aren't in love with $10 per lane, per hour," the group came to an agreement acceptable to both stakeholders.

"The $10, again, where we came up with that fee is we were looking at a comparison to (Mitchell Skating and) Hockey and the other groups, and that seemed to be the right amount to actually be fair to MAC as we are to all the other associations," Powell said.

Under the agreement the MAC will also pay $10 per pool, per hour at the Hitchcock Park outdoor aquatic facility. Currently, the MAC uses the outdoor pool and has conducted practices at an indoor facility on North Main Street.

Powell said the plan reduces the cost recovery goals at the new aquatic center from recouping 79 percent of costs to 76 percent of costs, but Powell suggested the fee is fair when considering what other local athletic associations pay.

"It will lower our cost recovery projection from 79 to 76 percent at the Rec Center, but it won't lower our revenue," Powell said. "We have all the revenue for the 2018 budget covered through other fees."

And Ryan Huber, a MAC parent who was one of the most vocal public advocates of the indoor pool project, was glad to have the details ironed out.

"I want you guys to know that I don't have any ill will, and I'm happy that we're finally able to get this done," Huber said.

The agreement also included language to have MAC pay 10 percent of its revenue from swimming lessons at the indoor facility back to the city.

The city will also offer swimming lessons, but Powell said the city and MAC will work to avoid competition.

"But we're going to coordinate, make sure we're not overlapping and competing with each other, because that's not our intention," Powell said.

Thursday's agreement comes as the city anticipates its indoor aquatic facility to be completed next summer. It also follows preliminary talks about the city possibly attempting to recover more costs from local athletic associations.

For now, Huber was satisfied with the agreement between the city and the nonprofit organization.

"I think it's going to end up being a win for the city and I think it's going to be a win for MAC," Huber said.