After months of trying to hammer out an agreement with the city, Mountlake Terrace Senior Center Executive Director Mike Cooper took his plea directly to the City Council Monday, asking that the senior group to be given the opportunity to move into and manage the Ballinger Clubhouse.
Cooper spoke for 25 minutes about the senior center’s history, future goals, potential use for the clubhouse facility, and financial plan to operate at the site.
The city council is scheduled to discuss the potential agreement between the city and the senior group at its Oct. 31 work/study session; a vote to finalize the agreement could be taken at the council’s Nov. 4 meeting.
The 6,800-square foot Ballinger Clubhouse, located at 23000 Lakeview Drive on the grounds of the new Ballinger Park in Mountlake Terrace, is owned by the city, but city officials are seeking someone to take over management of the facility. The building had previously been operated by Hardy Golf Inc. before the husband-wife team of Tyrone and Carol Hardy ended their relationship with the city in November 2012.
The Mountlake Terrace Senior Center has been talking with the City of Mountlake Terrace since June 2013 about taking over clubhouse operations, ever since the senior group was selected over a second applicant, an Edmonds caterer. “I think it’s going to happen,” Cooper said. “It’s just a question as to if there will be an alternative proposal or not.”
The senior center would not only manage the building, but would also move its offices and programs to the clubhouse.
The current plan is to have the senior center lease the building at a cost of $1,500 per month, plus pay utility costs for the facility, which are approximately $1,400 a month, Cooper explained. The senior group currently leases 800 square feet of office and program space from Bethesda Lutheran Church in Mountlake Terrace at a cost of $625 per month in rent and utilities.
Some have speculated that the city has been somewhat hesitant to complete the agreement with the senior center because the group would not have the funds necessary to meet clubhouse rental costs. But Cooper laid out his case that the senior center would be able to operate in the black during its first year at the facility. “In today’s numbers, real numbers, and adding in the user fees, our projected revenue is about $6,000 a year higher than our projected expenses,” Cooper told the city council. “So, in a perfect world, we’ll have a surplus at the end of 2014 of $6,000.”
The senior center currently operates on funds collected from membership fees, income from programs and special events, and money collected through fundraisers and grants. Cooper believes the group could afford the higher rent and utility costs at the Ballinger Clubhouse from a slight increase in membership and program income, but primarily from $35,040 of revenue raised from renting out the facility’s ballroom and proposed café areas.
Cooper said the seniors would bring in $30,000 per year from renting the clubhouse’s Lakeview Room to parties, wedding receptions, corporate events and other users – which is “the historical rental (figure) of that room” – plus $5,040 a year from renting a proposed kitchen/café area, describing both estimates as “very conservative numbers.”
The senior center would also seek additional income from special events, commercial and foundation grants, private and business donors, and estate giving.
— Story and photos by Doug Petrowski