TOLEDO, OH -- Plans to close the South Toledo YMCA on Aug. 29 have met with community protests and pleas from local politicians for the Y’s leaders to reconsider.
A group of Y supporters and neighbors announced Tuesday at a rally and news conference that they’ve retained legal counsel to assist their efforts.
Last month, the Y announced it was closing the South Toledo facility and donating the building to the Cedarcreek Church because of state budget cuts. The church reportedly plans to spend up to $2 million to renovate the building.
The citizens’ group said it retained counsel for two reasons: to stop the Y’s closing and to receive access to the Y’s financial records.
The community group reportedly met with Y officials on Monday, who said they would not consider keeping the branch open, according to local media reports.
Members of the Y say they were not given a chance to weigh in on the facility’s closing.
"The secrecy connected with the closing of this Y is a travesty," Fran Rideout, a member of the Y, told local TV reporters at the rally held in the facility’s parking lot. "The lack of planning makes us think there's something wrong. And if all of us are mad, then maybe there is something we can do about it."
Toledo mayoral candidate Mike Bell called for Y officials to postpone the proposed shutdown for 90 days to allow for more community involvement.
Bell also called for a management audit to examine the Y’s practice of hiring family members of its president and CEO, Robert Alexander. At least four people in Alexander's family were on the Y payroll, with total annual salaries and benefits in excess of $600,000, the Toledo Blade reported. Bell is one of six mayoral candidates on the city’s Sept. 15 primary ballot.
Y leaders released the following statement to local media: "We met initially with this group of concerned individuals. It was our first face-to-face meeting, and we felt it was productive, and there are plans to meet again."
The Y suggested that current members use the Y's Morse Center on the Health Science Campus of the University of Toledo. The South Toledo Y features a gymnasium, swimming pool, youth sports programs, gymnastics programs, exercise facilities and day care.