EUCLID, Ohio-- Residents, members and even some employees say they were blindsided by the announcement that the YMCA in Euclid will be closing.
Timothy Hilk, CEO and President of the Greater Cleveland YMCA, made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.
Hilk says the YMCA has been operating in Euclid for 70 years. They started inside churches and schools, and then in the 1950s when the community raised money to build the facility on Babbitt Rd.
The decision to close was not taken lightly by board members, said Hilk.
“It’s not an easy decision but realistically a necessary one,” said Hilk. “Because of significant operating loss of this branch, almost $200,000 a year, $1.7 million dollars over the last seven years.”
But many members are upset and don’t understand the decision, and wish the YMCA Board had included them in the discussions.
“It’s very upsetting, very unsettling that they waited so long to tell us,” said Emily Holody.
About 75 people filled the gymnasium for a town-hall style meeting Wednesday night and voiced their concerns.
One young man said the YMCA is so much more than a gym; it’s been a fun, safe environment that kept him and his friends out of trouble.
“I almost cried,” said Harold Russell II. “You know, this place has helped me develop not only as an athlete, but also as a person."
State Representative John Barnes, Jr. was also in attendance and said a number of constituents called his office, especially those that walk to the YMCA.
“This decision was made like a thief in the night,” said Barnes.
Although the “Y” is offering members a smooth transition to other locations including Lyndhurst and Willoughby, a significant number of members don’t have transportation.
Rep. Barnes asked Hilk to call a moratorium on the decision for two weeks so that the community, lawmakers and business leaders can come together and work on a solution.
Hilk promised to speak with board members, but as of now the YMCA is scheduled to close for good on May 11, 2018.