Supreme Court Dismisses YMCA Case

The Supreme Court of Virginia has dismissed the lawsuits against the Young Men’s Christian Association’s planned fitness center in McIntire Park, Sean Tubbs reports for Charlottesville Tomorrow. ACAC and Gold’s Gym sued Charlottesville and Albemarle County after the governments struck a deal with the YMCA to put a gym in the park, but didn’t open the process to a competitive bidding process that would have allowed either of those businesses to have a shot, as is standard in the procurement process.

The 39-page opinion makes for an interesting read. Although § 15.2-953 of the Virginia Code allows localities to provide money or property to non-profit organizations in exchange for those organizations providing services to citizens, the plaintiffs argued that the defendants’ actions here really should be governed by procurement law, and not by § 15.2-953. The court disagreed, citing a 2007 case to say that the gyms are “attempt[ing] a third-party challenge to a governmental action when such a challenge is not otherwise authorized by statute.” “ACAC alleges that it pays taxes in Albemarle County, it is not seeking to protect the interests of the taxpayers of Albemarle County and thus does not allege a justiciable controversy.” Also, the plaintiffs didn’t name the YMCA as a defendant, making it impossible for the court to compel them to do anything in this matter. The court considers a string of similar claims, and comes to the same conclusion in every case—there’s nothing that the court can do about them.

It was in December of 2007 that City Council voted to lease parkland to the YMCA—just over five years ago—and May of 2010 that the lawsuits were filed. This legal dispute was said to be the only thing standing in the way of starting construction, so presumably that’s the next step.

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