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City, school renew community center lease

SOLON– The community center has another six months.
At a June 17 meeting, city council members approved a second six-month lease with the Solon Community School District, extending the operation of the Solon Community Center to the end of 2020.
In December of 2019, the city and school negotiated a new six-month lease for the former middle school at 313 S. Iowa St. in an attempt to control costs.
The city reduced the amount of space by excluding the classroom wings and annex, while retaining access for the gymnasium, lobby and adjacent offices, cafeteria and kitchen, band room, music room, batting cages, auditorium lobby and auditorium.
The city has been operating the community center since June of 2018, but utility costs have been dogging the project.
At the June 17 session, Mayor Steve Stange told council members he and City Administrator Cami Rasmussen had discussed the future of the community center at length.
Stange said the community center’s financing and a desire to reassess the city’s needs and explore other options were taken into consideration before recommending extending the lease to the end of December.
Council member Dan O’Neil questioned how the city would handle utility costs, which were a significant expense.
Rasmussen responded the city had budgeted $44,000 for utility costs. That amount was divided out into a monthly payment in the new lease, she said.
“If we’re there the whole year, we’ll pay the whole year,” she noted.
She indicated council members had not previously wanted to approve a lease longer than one year due to budget losses caused by the high utility costs.
The city had just hired a new recreation director and had negotiated the new lease for the center at the beginning of 2019, but right around the corner was the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the cancelation of most recreation programs.
“We haven’t had any opportunities to bring in any revenues at all,” Rasmussen noted.
Council members asked about even shorter terms, but Stange noted the language in the lease requires a notification period, which would render a three-month lease ineffective.
It would also take the city some time to move out of the center, he added.
“We kicked it around a lot,” Stange said. “We had a lot of discussion.”
Members of the school board approved the new lease during a June 18 meeting as part of the consent agenda.