A developer with local roots has purchased Geneva Park from the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka.
Clayton Smith, who spearheaded the redevelopment of the nearby Orillia Rama Regional Airport (ORRA), has bought the historic property that sprawls along Lake Couchiching in Ramara Township.
Smith's Commercial Realty Group "has a genuine passion and a demonstrated history of breathing new life into iconic historical buildings in Toronto and destinations throughout the region," notes a news release from the YMCA, referencing the ORRA, Spirit Bay Harbor in Muskoka and Georgian Bay Airways in Parry Sound.
"As a conservationist, he is committed to the rejuvenation, restoration and maintenance of the park," notes the news release.
Smith says he and his team are taking the time to assess the property to "clearly understand what work needs to be done to ensure many safe and fun experiences at Geneva Park for years to come."
He said he is looking forward to connecting with community stakeholders soon.
“We understand that Geneva Park attendees and, in particular, the community, feel a great deal of ownership for the park and its future, and these legacy relationships are an asset for future support of the upcoming site and activity,” said Smith.
“We also know they are anxious to understand what is possible for this year and beyond, and we are committed to providing that information as soon as we can complete the necessary due diligence.”
YMCA CEO Jill Tettmann said the sale of the property concludes "an intensive 12-month process" that invited proposals from all interested public, private and community-based stakeholders. The process was managed by the Colliers Not-for-Profit Advisory and Unique Properties Group.
The sale to Smith represents "a significant step forward in preserving the property for years to come," said Tettmann.
“The process was specifically designed in consultation with park stakeholders, aimed at balancing the long-term sustainability of our YMCA with the best community use of the property and ways to continue the legacy of the park,” said Tettmann. “Today we are celebrating an outcome that is a best case solution, with a buyer whose intentions are rooted in revitalization.”
The deal is set to close by the end of April. The sale was announced prior to the closing date "due to the community’s eagerness to understand what is or is not possible for the upcoming summer season," said Tettmann.
“There is great passion for Geneva Park shared by all park stakeholders and we know that uncertainty around the property’s long-term future has been challenging for everyone who loves the park, including our own YMCA staff, so we opted to share the news as soon as we could,” said Tettmann.
YMCA Board Chair Lynn Strachan said the YMCA was grateful for the ideas and proposals that were floated for the future of the park.
The result, said Strachan, is the "strongest possible outcome" for the YMCA, the Geneva Park property and all stakeholders.
“This agreement allows us to make a decision that is in the best, long-term interest of our entire charitable organization and all our stakeholders, so we can be viable and sustainable for the long term. Further, it supports the viability of the park as a cherished regional destination, which was also extremely important to our Board and our entire YMCA team," said Strachan.