FENTON, Mo. — The City of Fenton’s Riverchase Rec Center could have new management by the end of the year. The YMCA could take over operations at the city’s recreation center. 

“It just seems like an opportunity to better utilize the facility,” Fenton Mayor Bob Brasses said. “That facility was built without any other community centers around and over the years, they just started cropping up and more and more competition so the board kind of felt we might need some help with that.”

That’s why the Y might be stepping in.

“We got contacted a number of months ago by the City of Fenton to ask if we would have an interest to explore the opportunity to partner with them to manage the Riverchase Rec Center.” President and CEO of Gateway Region YMCA Tim Helm said.

The Y and the city are in preliminary negotiations. 

“The city would continue to own it, and continue to partner with us, but we would bring the management support, we would manage it and run it on behalf of the city of Fenton,” Helm said.

He said the model would be the same as the Y’s Carondelet and O’Fallon parks locations, which are in partnership with the City of St. Louis.

According to the City of Fenton’s annual budget, Riverchase is operating at an average deficit of 517,000/year, based on data from 2018-2021. In 2022, the city’s budget shows it’s anticipating losing 1.43 million dollars from the recreation center.

According to city data, there was a $477,989 deficit in 2018 and 658,417 in 2019, which were pre-pandemic numbers. During the pandemic in 2020, the deficit was 520,745. In 2021, it nearly doubled to a loss of 932,434. 

Mayor Brasses said it’s common and nearly every city likely loses money on its rec centers. Meanwhile. Helm said the deficit is a concern, but he believes the Y can help the bottom line.

“It’s a beautiful facility that’s really underutilized at this point, and with our experience and skill in membership and programs, we really think that we can up the usage and decrease that financial subsidy that the city is putting forward,” Helm said.

During Thursday night’s virtual Board of Alderman meeting for the City of Fenton, the mayor asked the board to create a group of alderman to help go through any possible contracts and report back to the board of alderman and the city.

Helm said the contract negotiations would be when any rate changes or facility changes to the rec center would be discussed. Helm also said it’s early in the process, but he estimated that if everything went smoothly, the plan could be finalized in the second half of 2022. The contract would have to be approved by the YMCA’s Board and the City of Fenton’s Board of Alderman. 

If approved, this would be the first YMCA that would serve the Fenton region. Currently, there are 23 facilities in the YMCA’s Gateway region. This would also be the first time the region’s YMCA would take over an existing facility. 

Members at the recreation complex Thursday night had mixed feelings about the possibility of the Y taking over management. 

One rec center member said they weren’t happy to hear the Y could be taking over. Another member said that they are okay with the change, as long as rates stay the same.

“We have some people that have been with Riverchase for a long time, dearly love the place don’t want to see any changes. And then we have some other fans that are the exact opposite,” Mayor Brasses said.

Another member said they would like to see more members of the community use it. That’s the same wish Mayor Brasses has.

To see the city’s budget, visit: https://www.fentonmo.org/DocumentCenter/View/8698/2022-Approved-Budget