CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -- A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed in May by a group of for-profit club owners in the Charlottesville, VA, area who claimed that Albemarle County acted unfairly when it allocated $2.03 million in public funds toward building a new YMCA facility, according to several media outlets.
The Charlottesville Area Fitness Club Owners’ Association (CAFCOA), which represents ACAC Fitness and Wellness Centers, Gold’s Gym and Total Performance Sports and Fitness, argued that the county violated the Virginia Public Procurement Act by not allowing private clubs to bid on the aquatic services that will be offered by the YMCA’s new center or to make alternative proposals to building the facility on public land.
“The association fully supports the mission of the YMCA and its contributions to our community,” the CAFCOA said in a media statement when it filed suit in May. “However, we do not feel that constructing a large-scale fitness center is the best use of taxpayer dollars. Given the current economic climate, we believe that appropriating $3 million for the construction of a 70,000-square-foot fitness facility in McIntire Park is a misuse of public funds—especially when other providers are in a position to offer solutions that cost less and can prevent the destruction of a public park.”
Judge Cheryl Higgins decided for the county, which argued that because its contribution was to a nonprofit organization, it was not subject to the requirements of the procurement act.
In a media statement after the ruling, the CAFCOA said it respectfully disagreed with the ruling.
“While we agree that Albemarle County had the power to make appropriations to charities, we think the judge was in error in finding that the county could contract for the acquisition of services without also complying with the Virginia Public Procurement Act,” the CAFCOA said in the statement. “Although we are disappointed with the outcome, we appreciate the right to participate in the judicial process and will weigh our options going forward.”
The CAFCOA also filed suit in May against the city of Charlottesville, which allocated an additional $1.25 million toward building the new facility and agreed to a 40-year lease of public park land to the Y for $1 per year. The suit has been assigned to the same judge, but no date has been set for the hearing.
The YMCA is not a party to either lawsuit.