Glendale YMCA will lose lease at island camp

first_imgGLENDALE – The stewards of Catalina Island will allow a campground lease held by the Glendale YMCA to expire after both sides failed to agree to new terms, officials said Thursday. That means the Glendale Y, which for more than 80 years has operated Camp Fox – a 3 1/2 acre, 30-cabin facility on the island’s Buttonshell Beach – will end its stay there once the agreement expires at year’s end. “We don’t want to leave Camp Fox,” said John Thomas, chief executive officer at the Y. “But if we have to leave, we will continue to do camping.” At issue for the Catalina Island Conservancy, which oversees nearly the entire 48,000-acre island, is whether the Y could afford to operate the facility. The campground – currently at half-capacity because of problems with the septic tank – hosts about 1,700 children during the summer months and is subleased the rest of the year to a science education institute. But the facility deteriorated with year-round use and requires about $1.2million in repairs for the septic system, fire system upgrades and cleanup at the area dump. Both Thomas and conservancy Chief Operating Officer Mel Dinkel acknowledged the maintenance shortfalls, citing the Y’s limited finances. “The main problem was their resources and the funding they had available through their small organization,” Dinkel said. “We were hoping they would be able to find other groups that could work with them. It doesn’t appear they were able to.” Negotiations have dragged over the past year, with the conservancy finally extending the Y a letter of intent Aug.9 to renew the lease for three years, with four three-year extensions for a total of 15 years. They also agreed on a payment plan for the $1.2million needed to restore the camp. The Y, unable to agree on details in the proposal, asked for two extensions after the Aug.19 signing deadline. Thomas declined to discuss the causes, but after a meeting Wednesday, the Y’s camp committee asked to extend negotiations, which the conservancy denied, Dinkel said. “Their response was they still couldn’t sign the letter of intent,” Dinkel said. “Unfortunately, we have to move forward.” Without the Glendale Y, Dinkel said, the conservancy will appoint an interim operator once the lease expires at the end of the year, then consider offers from other groups. YMCA Los Angeles, the La Crescenta Y and Guided Discoveries, the group subleasing the camp, have shown interest, he said. But the Glendale Y is still responsible for the outstanding repairs – it has spent about $200,000 on state approvals and designs and has put the job out to bid, Thomas said. And camping will remain a part of the Y, with or without Camp Fox. “It’s our commitment to kids in this community that camping remains strong,” Thomas said. “I’m not tied to Camp Fox do or die, I’m tied to camping for kids.” “The amount of time that has been put into this has really been significant, and I’m disappointed that we couldn’t come to a conclusion that worked for both us and them,” Dinkel said. “Hopefully, we could resolve the current issues at the camp, and they’ll be able to use the camp as they had in the last 80 years.” (818) 546-3304160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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