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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- Last summer, local and state leaders welcomed the Marine Forces Reserve to its new $166 million headquarters in Federal City.

As part of the agreement to lure the Marines to the former Navy base in Algiers, the state promised a list of so-called quality of life amenities, including a day care center.

The West Bank YMCA agreed to run the child care center if the project's master developer HRI/ECC agreed to pay for renovations to the old building and other start up costs.

'A few months ago they stopped paying either costs and that amounted to about $100,000,' said West Bank YMCA executive director Mke Appe.

The YMCA is now suing HRI/ECC, claiming it owes the non-profit $52,000 for capital improvements to the child development center and another $45,000 to cover projected losses during the center's first year of operation.

'We still think it's a great project,' said Appe. 'It's just we want to recover the funds that are owed to us so we can move forward and make it a longer term project.'

The West Bank YMCA board recently voted to close the child development center in June.

The center now cares for about 50 children. Most of the kids have a parent working for the military.

State Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-Algiers, chairs the Algiers Development District, the state board that oversees Federal City.

'We need to make sure it stays open,' said Arnold. 'Right now, that obligation is on HRI ECC and if someone has to step in and fulfill those obligations then we have to look at our whole master development contract.'

HRI says it is not responsible for the YMCA's cost overruns.

Company President Tom Leonard said its contract with the YMCA requires HRI to pay only $56,000 toward the center and cover the operating shortfalls based on the number of children occupying the daycare.

Leonard released a statement saying: 'We support the YMCA's request for $47,000 but the funds should come from the $150 million development fund established by the state for this purpose.'

The YMCA says it will continue running the center if HRI or some other entity pays the bills now in dispute.

'We would love to continue operations,' said Appe.

In the meantime, Arnold says the ADD will look at other options to keep the center open.

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