YMCA closing 3 area locations in part of revitalization plan - KCTV5

YMCA closing 3 area locations in part of revitalization plan

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The YMCA of Greater Kansas City announced Tuesday that it is closing three locations due to declining enrollment. 

The news has upset members at the facilities. The YMCA says this is part of a bigger plan.

Spokeswoman Mary Burns said the Eighth Street Family YMCA in Kansas City, KS,, the Independence Family YMCA on East 32nd Street in Independence and the Richard C. Green Sr. Family YMCA on 350 Highway in Raytown will all close.

Burns calls this a revitalization plan that will include a new YMCA at West 10th Street and Grand Boulevard in downtown Kansas City. 

Renovations are also planned for the Linwood YMCA at 3800 E. Linwood Ave. and the Atchison Family YMCA in Atchison, KS. Renovations at the Linwood and downtown Y will include indoor pools and walking trails.

The goal is to take the Y into the community by offering Learn to Swim programs and early childhood education programs. The Y will partner with school districts, churches and sports facilities to keep the programs going.

"We want to make sure the Y is seen beyond just our building," said David Byrd, chief executive officer for the Kansas City organization. "We do a lot of child care, Head Start locations here in Greater Kansas City, but unfortunately many times people just see us as a building. We're much broader than that."

The 200 full-time and part-time employees at the Y will be offered open positions at other facilities. It's unclear whether any layoffs will occur.

YMCA officials studied memberships for two years and are closing the three locations due to declining membership, Burns said.

Frustrated members started an online petition pleading to keep the Eighth Street location open.

"The YMCA has been here in Kansas City for over 150 years.  It has had to evolve and change all for the greater good of tomorrow.  We have to make decisions to maintain our sustainability for 150 years," Burns said.

Santiago Verela and Nicole Calderon are regulars at the Eighth Street location.

"We've been coming here for a while. It is close to home. It is a great location, great group of people," Verela said.

The closure also doesn't sit well with Calderon.

"It kind of makes me sad, because after work, this is something I enjoy doing. This is something I look forward to doing, even on the weekends," Calderon said.

The Eighth Street location has been around since 1913.  It was one of the last to house people in the metro, and judging by the crowd of members leaving the building Monday night, it remains popular, especially with children.

Several members are still having a hard time coming to terms with the likelihood that their doors will soon close.

"I think it's a bad choice because it is in the inner city, and there are a lot of people that do still come here. I think that would be really a disadvantage," Barbara Williams said.

Some members said it would be a disadvantage to children who come here because they would have no place to go.

The last day of YMCA operations at the three facilities will be April 12. The 2,400 members affected will have the option to transfer to a neighboring locations.

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