YMCA votes to stay open, move to Colegate Drive

CHAD PLAUCHE-ADKINS The Marietta Times Almost 100 YMCA members gathered on Friday night at the Marietta Family YMCA to vote on the future of the organization in Marietta.

The Marietta Family YMCA’s members voted on Friday night to keep the 113-year-old institution as a part of the Marietta community at a new Colegate Drive location, rather than closing it completely.

Leaking roofs, a cracked pool and rising maintenance costs forced the vote on whether to save the Y or shut it down permanently, and board members said Friday declining memberships also played a part. The board of the YMCA had announced last month that it planned to relocate and do away with many of its services this spring due to an aging building and a lack of funds to move to a location that would accommodate all services, but bylaws required that Y members got to vote on the decision.

A yes vote on the proposition meant the selling of the organization’s building at 300 N. Seventh St. and a move to 1301 Colegate Drive next to Goodwill. A no vote would have shuttered the doors of the YMCA immediately, forcing them to lose their charter, which would keep the city from having a YMCA again. The final vote was 80 yes votes, two no votes and five abstentions. About 100 people attended the meeting, which had been advertised to them through notices in the mail, said Rick Smith, chairman of the board.

Before the vote took place, Smith said since their decision in July to sell the Seventh Street building, only one prospective buyer made an offer.

Smith said that accepting the $725,000 offer from Glendale Road Development LLC for the YMCA was the only viable option to save the Y from permanent closure. Smith said he didn’t know who the owners of the LLC were, or what they were going to do with the location after the purchase. But Smith said the company would provide needed money for the transition of the Y to its new location on Colegate Drive.

“They have agreed to give us an open ended mortgage of $100,000,” he said.

Smith said the loan would have no interest and a promissory note would signed that says the YMCA agrees to pay off the entire loan as soon as the sale is complete. Smith said the money would be used to keep lights on at both locations until the transition is finished. Smith said that most services would begin moving on March 31, and be completed within a few months.

Smith said a decrease in paid memberships has caused the YMCA to be in the red for the last six years.

“We lost over $100,000 last year, and are on track to lose around $200,000 this year,” he said.

Debbie Lazurik, the chair of the Y’s finance committee, said the losses in 2019 have been the most she’s seen in her five-year tenure, and moving to the new location would put the organization back on the right track.

“There was a loss of $52,000 in the first two months of the year,” she said. “The new business model we put in is the future of the Y.”

Smith said the new business model predicts that the nonprofit would stay revenue neutral for at least the next few years. But moving to the new location would force the Y to lose some of the services that were offered at the Seventh Street location.

Kerry Jean Waddle, CEO of the Marietta Y, said the new location won’t have a pool, basketball court or strength training equipment. She said the loss of those services is due to other exercise facilities moving into the area, taking that portion of the fitness market away from them.

“I like to focus on what we still have in the community,” she said.

She said the Y’s two most popular services of child care and its associated services, and group fitness classes will be the main focus at the new location.

“It fills a sense of community, working out together week after week,” she said.

Many YMCA members voiced their opinion about the lack of notice of the vote and lack of choices to fix the problems.

“Was this an option? There wasn’t a choice,” said Judy Baker, of Marietta, a YMCA member.

Baker said she felt that if members were told sooner of the problems, potentially the building could have been saved.

Smith said the members have known for a while that the financial burden the 60-year-old building was causing with its maintenance costs had forced the board to put it on the market.

“The membership knew in July when we decided to sell the building,” he said.

Marion Kim, 64, a YMCA member from Marietta, said he has been with the YMCA for 45 years and is sorry it will be finding a new home.

“I love the Y,” he said. “I wished we could have saved the building.”

At a glance

•Members of the Marietta Family YMCA voted Friday to move its location to 1301 Colegate Drive instead of closing its doors permanently.

•The move will cause the loss of the pool, basketball court and strength training equipment.

•Members complained of a lack of warning about the financial woes of the YMCA.

•The Y has lost $52,000 in the first two months of operation in 2019.

Source: Times research.