YMCA transition complete
Matt LaPorte (left), the new facility supervisor at Lakeview Fitness Center, is shown with center employee Nena Hermes on Dec. 28. The Vernon Hills Park District is taking over the YMCA facility. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 4, 2013 1:50AM
VERNON HILLS — Central Lake YMCA is now the Lakeview Fitness Center.
The Vernon Hills Park District installed its own management team Tuesday, and with some details labeled “a work in progress,” the transition is underway.
Matt LaPorte, a Rhode Island native, was hired to be the facility supervisor. A 2001 graduate of University of New Hampshire, LaPorte spent two years as a sports director at a YMCA in Boston.
After moving to Colorado in 2005, LaPorte took a job at a park and recreation district, helping to open a 63,000-square-foot community center. He was responsible for youth and family programming.
LaPorte moved to Illinois in October to be closer to family and was led to Vernon Hills by a mentor in the Illinois Park and Recreation Association.
Now responsible for general operations at the 35,000-square-foot Lakeview Fitness Center, LaPorte oversees 30 of the 50-60 employees. Pool operations report elsewhere.
LaPorte said staffing decisions are sin progress, but some of the YMCA staff has been retained and he’d like to secure even more.
“We’re hoping to keep that family feel to the building,” LaPorte said. “People trust us with their children, and we’d like to keep consistent with what they know and like.”
Lakeview will assume the fitness arm of the park district – something YMCA members have been used to for years.
LaPorte said the YMCA leased its fitness equipment and by mid-January all that equipment will be returned and park district equipment will be moved from the Sullivan Center into the Lakeview Fitness Center. Free weights will also be at Lakeview.
The former YMCA daycare will be called Lakeview Little Learning, while the Little Learners Preschool will remain at the Sullivan Center.
Basketball court and fitness classes will also be at the Sullivan Center. Some excess space will be repurposed.
New equipment YMCA members don’t have now but will get in the switch include elliptical machines, stair climbers and newer treadmills.
When the park district came to a principal agreement with Lake Family YMCA to buy the property and client membership, Park Board President David Doerhoefer immediately declared that all members of the YMCA had become members of the park district at rates equal or less than YMCA prices.
That has held true. LaPorte said memberships are 10 percent less and grant patrons access to the Sullivan Center, while current park members now get to use the pool at Lakeview.
The park district’s Family Aquatic Center requires a separate membership, per usual.
Choosing a new name for the facility preceded LaPorte’s Dec. 1 start date.
Communications Manager Cheryl Baron said an informal staff recommendation was made to trustees, individually, who all agreed.
“They chose ‘lakeview’ because the building is on Lakeview Parkway,” Baron said.
A new street-side marque is being ordered, while other marketing tools are also being developed to rebuild membership.
Lake Family YMCA originally announced its Oct. 30 closure due to an accrued $6 million in operational debt over several years.
The park district expressed interest in the property and worked with the village to reach a principal agreement with Lake Family on Oct. 29. On Nov. 13, the village granted the park district a $2 million, 13-year interest-free loan. Park Commissioners approved a purchasing agreement on Nov. 15.