April 20, 2014

Elyria
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Y wants help to replace closed facilities

ELYRIA — More than a year after YMCAs in Lorain and Elyria locked their doors without notice, the YMCA of Greater Cleveland is asking county residents to help it raise money to build two new facilities.
Glenn Haley, president of the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, told the county commissioners Thursday that the organization has a three-year plan to raise $14.2 million to construct new facilities in Avon and Amherst and to renovate a YWCA in Elyria.
Commissioner Ted Kalo said the group that operated and then locked the doors of the Elyria and Lorain YMCAs last year had nothing to do with the YMCA of Greater Cleveland.
“It’s like Chrysler going bankrupt and Ford continuing on,” he said. “They both make cars, but they’re different corporations.”
The Campaign for Lorain County quietly kicked off earlier this year with private support, but Haley said it’s now time to reach out for more.
“We offer a lot of good programs that help a lot of people,” Haley said. “I want to bring these facilities to Lorain County.”
The organization is looking for volunteers to help raise funds, as well as donors to put the projects into action. Citing a growing obesity epidemic among adults and children and other challenges today’s kids face, Haley said the facilities are desperately needed.
“You have to put them where people can get to them,” he said, adding that the next-closest YMCA is in Westlake. “Kids want a place to go after school, and we’re looking for a way to give them a place.”
Haley said he supports the YMCA subsidizing a program for low-income people who want to join as another benefit for county residents. He also answered critics’ cries about why they’re choosing to put the most expensive facility — a 65,000-square-foot full-service membership branch costing $13.6 million — in the affluent city of Avon.
The Amherst facility, which will be located in an old La-Z-Boy store on Cooper Foster Park Road, will cost $450,000, while the renovations to the Elyria YWCA will run $150,000.
“It’s economics,” he said. “For example, in Cleveland we need to have eight highly functioning units in order to keep these other ones going.”
The Avon branch was also appealing to the organization because the city promised
$8 million, pending voter approval of a 0.25 percentage point income tax increase on the November 2007 ballot. Anchored with a six-lane competitive swimming pool, the Avon branch will be the cornerstone of a proposed municipal complex, along with a baseball stadium, soccer fields and an ice rink.
In Amherst, the 13,000-square-foot Y-Express branch will have workout programs and fitness equipment.
The county commissioners passed a symbolic resolution endorsing the fundraising campaign.

Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151 and awright@chroniclet.com.

Want to donate?
Contact Terri Manns, director of major gifts with the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, at (216) 263-6844
or tmanns@clevelandymca.org.