The fitness center at the YMCA Carlson MetroCenter in downtown Rochester will be closed for good today, the Greater Rochester YMCA announced on Wednesday.
The branch on East Main and Gibbs Streets will continue to provide other services, including childcare and after-school programs and summer camps.
The Carlson MetroCenter is the second YMCA fitness facility in town to close last year. The Greater Rochester YMCA closed its Monroe Avenue store and its only Victor, Ontario County store completely last summer.
Access to the fitness center at the Carlson MetroCenter, including the gym and pool, was blocked in vember.
George Romell, president and chief executive officer of the YMCA, said about one in five Carlson members used the facility when it was open and that the center had an average of less than 500 visitors per day. In addition, the Carlson location has lost more than $ 1 million a year since 2017, despite more active suburban locations subsidizing operations in the city.
"It became very clear that by participating, you literally cannot support a 65,000 square meter surgery dedicated to this program that serves an average of 500 people a day," said Romell.
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The announcement that the Carlson fitness facility would be permanently closed was met with frustration by a longtime and prominent YMCA attorney – Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart.
"YMCAs have been closing urban sites across the country in recent years," said Barnhart. "What makes this particularly painful is that the YMCA has chosen to invest in the most affluent suburbs rather than the city where its services are most needed.
"The YMCA blames the decline in membership for the management itself, caused by investments elsewhere."
Romell said he realized the move might suggest to some that the YMCA is placing more emphasis on its facilities in the suburbs than in the city. The YMCA has five locations in the suburbs, including the Scottish family's huge YMCA in Pittsford, which opened in 2019.
However, Romell said the main goal of investing in the suburban locations is to generate revenue that can help support Y's urban mission.
The YMCA continues to operate three locations in the city including the Maplewood Family YMCA, Southwest Family YMCA, and the YMCA Center for Equity on Lewis Street.
Romell said the YMCA is determined to improve these locations and the YMCA's Community Services Division.
“I'm thinking of what we're doing on Lewis Street now with the Equity Center. I think of the daily activities in Maplewood for the past decade, ”said Romell. “The fact that we have an operation in the southwest.
"It is not lost to our board of directors that this really goes to cover a significant portion of the crescent," continued Romell, using the nickname often used to describe a largely impoverished part of Rochester.
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The Greater Rochester YMCA is also establishing a “City Critical Services” task force to reposition the way the Y delivers services.
“We will look for alternative locations. One of our goals is to ensure that health, wellness and other services are closer to and able to influence people in need, ”said Romell.
The task force will begin its work in May and the process is expected to take several months.
YMCA officials said Carlson employees who are currently at work will continue to work in other Y locations. All employees currently on leave (who have been on leave since last vember) will lose their jobs. The organization said that employees who have lost their positions can reapply for an open position across the YMCA.
David Andreatta is the editor of CITY. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Randy Gorbman is the News Director at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.
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