ST. CLOUD - A partnership between the city of St. Cloud and the YMCA to build a new Aquatic and Community Center is official. The city council tonight (Monday) approved two agreements; one is the Development Agreement to design and build it jointly. The other is the Operations Agreement, which includes a 20-year lease for the Y, with the city responsible for maintaining the exterior of the facility.

The action by the city council approves the designs for the project, which have been discussed for the past several months.

The city also plans to maintain at least a $125,000 reserve fund for the facility, using half-cent sales tax dollars.

The total budget for the project is $24.9 million. The city will chip in about $13 million in half-cent sales tax dollars, with the rest coming from a fundraising campaign. YMCA Executive Director Greg Gack says they still have to raise $1.7 million to reach their goal.

The board has always committed that we will not build anymore than what we can raise. We are in the process right now of identifying this last $1.7 million. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks we're going to have a better understanding of where we are toward that goal.

The hope is to reach the fundraising goal soon, so they can bid the project in the next month.

The two agreements passed by a four-to-one vote, with Carol Lewis voting against.

I'm getting a fair amount of feedback in the community with disgruntlement regarding the size of the basketball courts, and the fact that there's no diving well.

Council members Jeff Johnson and Dave Masters were not at Monday night's meeting.

The designs include an eight-lane lap pool, and a zero entry family pool with a slide. There's a kids zone, two racquetball courts, and three basketball courts.

Construction is expected to start this fall, with completion by the end of next year.

The original ballot question to build an aquatic center, using half-cent sale tax dollars, was in 2004.