June 30th, 2011 By | News | Posted In: News, Community, Neighborhoods, Family

YMCA to Close One Site, Alter Another

1 Comment

As part of a realignment of its facilities in the urban core, the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati will close the Williams branch in East Walnut Hills in August. Also, although the YMCA will continue some programs at the Melrose branch in Walnut Hills, it also will end general membership services there.

Both changes are effective Aug. 22, YMCA officials said.

The Melrose branch in Walnut Hills will continue to host the YMCA's Community Services, Black and Latino Achievers, Mentoring Center and Child Development Services programs.

Melrose and Williams members will be able to transfer their membership to any YMCA branch.

The decision-making process for the realignment included a review of factors such as declining levels of membership and program participants, overlapping membership bases, the age and design of the buildings and others.

Participation in programs at the Melrose YMCA has declined 50 percent in the past four years, while the Williams YMCA had a 29 percent decline in membership over the past three years, officials said.

Other YMCA facilities in the urban core — including the Carl H. Lindner YMCA in the West End, the R.E. Lindner YMCA in Norwood and the Central Parkway YMCA downtown — are unaffected by the changes.

These are difficult decisions.We have wrestled with the future of Williams and Melrose for years,” said Sandra Berlin Walker, the YMCA's president and CEO, in a prepared statement.

These two buildings simply no longer provide the opportunity to deliver the vibrant experiences that all Y members deserve, especially our members in the city core,” she added. “That is why we made these most difficult decisions.”

07.01.2011 at 09:16 Reply
There is more to this story. Prior to 2007, the Williams branch of the YMCA had a pool. I was a member. That is why I joined. Because the Williams YMCA was an all-adult facility (people under 14 years of age could not join) it and the Central Parkway YMCA did not require lifeguards to be present at the pools. This kept the costs down. Then, some time around 2005 or 2006, there was an drowning incident at the Melrose branch pool. Bear in mind there that there WAS a lifeguard on duty at the time. Also, nationally, there was a rash of drownings at YMCAs. To my knowledge there had never been a drowning or safety problem a the two all-adult Y branches: Central Parkway and Williams. This type of approach (i.e., not having lifeguards stationed at indoor all-adult health clubs) is common in private health clubs such as the Cincinnati Sports Club, Urban Active and LA Fitness. I am, for example, now a member at LA Fitness in Oakley, where no lifeguard is ever on duty. So, after the drowing incidents (again, this was at a facility, Melrose that DID have a lifeguard), the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati made a decision to start requiring lifeguards be present at the Central Parkway branch and the Williams YMCA branch. This, in turn, drove up costs. So, as of December 31, 2006, the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati closed the pool at the Williams YMCA. With that closing, it was inevitable that many members (such as me) would leave. To many of us, it was clear at that time that the Williams YMCA would close in a few years. - - - - - - This is a sad day. However, it would not be such a sad day if the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati had shown leadership during the last 4-5 years to create a really attractive new Family YMCA to serve the East Side. As it stands today, the East Side (Hyde Park, Oakley Columbia/Tusculum, Linwood, Madisonville, Pleasant Ridge, Kennedy Heights, Fairfax and Mariemont) stands out in the entire Tri-State region as the most obvious underserved area for the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati. During the last 4-5 years, I have seen no evidence that the Y organization has moved to correct this situation on the East Side where we are underserved. Obviously, we are just as deserving of a Family YMCA (with outdoor and indoor pools, extensive programs for kids, and long hours on weekends) as the suburban communities such as Blue Ash, Finneytown, Anderson, Liberty Township, Fairfield, Burlington, KY; and Fort Thomas, KY that DO have Family YMCAs. But for some reason the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati is not moving to correct this glaring under-serving of this part of town. That's the story behind the story of the closing of Williams YMCA and the downgrading of the Melrose branch. It's time for the YMCA to develop a long-term plan to serve the families on Cincinnati's East Side.