Surrisi said a special meeting will be held this Wednesday with Mayor Senter, the City Attorney, Councilmembers Don Ecker and Robert Listenberger, Clerk/Treasurer Jeanine Xaver, Park Superintendent Mike Hite, Park Board President Dave Morrow and Secretary Laura Mann and Eric Walsh from BakerTilly.
Surrisi said the Operating Company, the Dr. Susan Bardwell Aquatic Center LLC, a company owned by Rich Miller had breached its obligation to operate the facility. Miller had a personal guarantee of the obligation.
The city attorney said the landlord of the facility, Marshall County Health and Wellness Inc. held the contract with Rick Miller’s company. They filed a lawsuit against Miller seeking a recovery for the damages for that breach of contract. A default judgement was obtained against him and since that time Miller has had three attorneys that have appeared and are seeking to have the default judgement set-aside and continue to litigate the case. Surrisi said there is a hearing on that motion on February 16th.
Over the last year the facility has been operating with some contingency funds that were built into the budget in case something like this were to arise. Surrisi said those funds will be running out sometime in March of this year. They are looking at some kind of long-term solution or at least in the interim a plan to cover the operations of the facility so it continues to operate.
A main concern is to keep the aquatic center operational because all of the financing obligations that went into helping to support financing the construction of the facility are still due and payable even if the facility were to close down.
Surrisi said, “It’s important to find a way where the facility can remain operational so that we are not spending a significant amount of money to pay off the construction of the facility and not get any benefit from it.”
Discussions with the park department started late last year to see if it would be a good fit to have them help run the facility given their experience with operating the existing city pool. Surrisi said those discussions are ongoing now.
Its anticipated additional information will be available at the next city meeting on January 25th.
Councilman Greg Compton asked if funds are not available by mid-March would the aquatic center have to close and the city attorney said “as it exists right now that is the case.”
The city attorney said it is a priority of the mayor to identify some city funds, whether to prioritize some already budgeted funds this year or look at utilizing some other funds at least in the immediate term to figure out how to keep the facility going and look for a more sustainable long-term solution that could involve the other partners involved in the project; the Plymouth Community School Corporation and Ancilla College.
Compton also asked who is currently taking care of the general management of the pool now? The city attorney said a new company was formed; Dr. Susan Bardwell Swimming LLC after Mr. Miller breached his obligation. The city attorney Sean Surrisi and the mayor’s wife, Leanne Senter are volunteering their time to oversee the management of the facility.