Palo Alto YMCA Members Vow to Fight as Gym Set to Close

Some members of the Page Mill YMCA in Palo Alto say the Board of Directors should expect a fight as they plan to close the facility, which houses a gym in the basement of an office building, because the top executives say it's too expensive to renovate the aging infrastructure.

The YMCA of Silicon Valley – which oversees this and other Peninsula YMCA facilities – is hosting a community meeting Wednesday evening regarding the closure of the 35-year-old facility on Page Mill Road when the 10-year lease ends Oct. 1. The YMCA leases the gym, which is housed in a non-YMCA office building.

In a June letter to members, the Chief Financial Officer of the YMCA of Silicon Valley told the 2,300 members that the facility needs renovations to the heating, cooling and ventilation systems and that the decision to close the Page Mill facility was a difficult one to make.

“Ultimately they realized the organization being a not-for-profit and having such limited resources, we just couldn’t take on a $2.8-million debt without having some foreseeable way of recouping that,” wrote Jordan. 

A Page Mill YMCA board member took issue with that, telling NBC Bay Area that he filed a complaint with the California Attorney General’s Office of Charitable Trusts because of a recent fundraising drive.

“The central office of YMCA Silicon Valley probably knew several months in advance that they were planning to close this branch," Jeff Fenton said. "Yet, they allowed our campaign to go forward, with our volunteers trained to tell our donors that they were giving money to Page Mill.” 

But on Wednesday evening, Fenton told NBC Bay Area that he was withdrawing the complaint, and is satisfied all monies raised for the Page Mill facility did in fact go there.

While Fenton and a few other members question the reason for the closure, other members are wondering what’s next for them, including Britta Sagarhammar who has a mild disability and walks to the Page Mill YMCA.

“This is my home, I come here five times a week and if I have to go to Ross Road, it’s a two mile walk and I’d be tired by the time I got there,” she said.

Whether or not she wants it, the YMCA Silicon Valley is offering her and the the 2,300 members three months free at the Palo Alto Family YMCA  at 3412 Ross Road or the East Palo Alto Family YMCA at 550 Bell Street.

While they may get the same workout, they won’t have the same tightknit community.

“I’ve been coming to this Y since early 1990 and I really like it because it’s a tight community, an early-morning community a healthy community. And it’s kind of nice when a community of like-minded people has a place to call their own,” said Dave Lyons.

The community meeting is planned for 5 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 505 E. Charleston Road in Palo Alto.

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