YMCA to Open at Federal City
17 May 2012
The latest facility to open at Federal City in Algiers is the YMCA, which will provide recreational services for the Marines and their families stationed at the Marine Corps Support Facility and the surrounding community.
Federal City YMCA to be dedicated today
16 May 2012
Although purely ceremonial in nature, the YMCA of Greater New Orleans will dedicate its new facility at the Federal City campus in Algiers today. Local, state and federal elected officials, or representatives from their offices, will gather at the fitness center at 10 a.m., for the dedication.
David Ozmore, YMCA chief executive and president, will lead the ceremony that is scheduled to include New Orleans City Councilmember Kristen Palmer, state Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-Algiers, and staffers from the offices of U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter and U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, according to a press release, which touts the facility as a first for the YMCA in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.
Absent from the lineup, however, are members of the New Orleans Federal Alliance, which is the nonprofit created in 2004 specifically to oversee the Federal City project, and the master development team, HRI/ECC.
Although open to the public, the Navy required the fitness center in its lease agreement with the state, reached about four years ago to mark the formal start of years-long effort to convert the now-closed Naval Support Activity into a mixed-use development anchored by Marine Corps Support Facility New Orleans.
The state pledged $150 million from its “Mega Fund” economic development pot of money as seed money for Federal City, most of which has been spent on building the 29-acre Marine Corps compound, home to Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North national headquarters.
The YMCA was tapped to operate the center, created to support the 1,300 Marines and civilians who work at the Marine compound daily by converting the Navy’s fitness facilities using a $2.5 million legislative appropriation.
The facility includes a fitness center with exercise equipment and a gymnasium. A second phase, which includes a swimming pool, is planned, also using legislative appropriation.
The YMCA also agreed to operate the Federal City’s child care development center as well, which has led the organization to sue HRI/ECC in New Orleans Civil District Court over a contract dispute.
Like the fitness center, a parking garage with retail outlets and a 400-seat auditorium and the child care development center are requirements of the Navy lease agreement. Under the Federal City concept, the commercial market provides service members with these quality-of-life amenities, as opposed to the Defense Department paying to maintain those services.
The child care development center dispute does not affect the YMCA fitness center.
The New Orleans Federal Alliance and HRI/ECC, meanwhile, also are hashing out contract disputes in Civil District Court, ranging from which is responsible for paying certain utility costs to the alliance’s withholding contract management and development fees.
Additionally, the alliance and the Algiers Development District board, which signed the lease with the Navy on behalf of the state, have been embroiled in a dispute since early 2011 over which will control Federal City. Arnold and Palmer are members of the Algiers board.
The governance dispute stems from the Navy receiving approval in last year to give most of the former Naval Support Activity to the state, which would effectively eliminate the lease agreement with the state.
Because it signed the lease agreement on behalf of the state, the Algiers Development District board, which comprises state and local elected officials or their appointees, would own the acreage.
That, in the view of Algiers board members, means its sublease agreement with the alliance to oversee Federal City would end. Alliance members, who have accused the Algiers board of making a political power play, disagree with that assessment.
The Algiers board months ago offered to create a joint development committee comprising members of both entities. As of yet, officials on both sides have not announced publicly where those discussions stand.