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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

The Atlee Station YMCA in Mechanicsville will remain open at least through 2016.

The announcement came Tuesday night after a community meeting at the facility attended by more than 100 YMCA members, according to YMCA of Greater Richmond spokeswoman Charlotte Dean.

The YMCA announced in July it would close the Atlee Station branch, located in the Rutland development in Hanover County, in October.

Shortly after the announcement, community members formed the group Save The Atlee Y, or STAY.

Dean said community support of their local YMCA drove the organization to find a way to keep the facility open.

"The passion of the members, of the community is really commendable," Dean said.

According to YMCA's Vice President of Communication and Marketing Rich Lundvall, the YMCA and HHHunt, the developer of Rutland, which owns the property and building, both made financial concessions to keep the facility operating.

Lundvall said the details of the financial arrangement are private.

Lundvall also said the community and the YMCA have to work together to expand the Atlee YMCA facility to accommodate more members.

"What needs to happen here is that the Y needs to have a long-term sustainable plan," Lundvall said. To be sustainable, Lundvall added, the organization needs members to be active in growing and participating in the YMCA.

Media were not allowed into the community meeting.

YMCA members came out of the meeting wearing blue "Save The Atlee Y, STAY" T-shirts -- and smiles.

Nell Curtis, a retired Hanover resident who has been a member of the YMCA since it opened three years ago, said she was ecstatic the facility was going to stay.

"That's why we came up with the name," she said.

She said the Atlee YMCA is part of her daily routine and she's looking forward to working to expand the facility.

"We're ready to do what we need to do for the Y," Curtis said.

Steve Sorbara, a member of STAY who sold almost 100 STAY T-shirts to raise money for the cause, said the hard work begins now.

"We're working toward the long-term goals now," Sorbara said, referring to keeping the YMCA operating past the two years and expanding the facility to accommodate more members.

Rich Reutti, an active member of STAY, said they'll now change the group's name to Support The Atlee Y, keeping the acronym. He said he's proud of what the community has accomplished.

"The key in a crisis is to have everybody come together and lock arms," Reutti said.

Reutti said they didn't just get their YMCA back, they found a partner who will work with them toward a common goal.

"They're willing to commit resources," Reutti said of the YMCA.

Sorbara said the success of the YMCA long term will depend on "everybody's willingness to step up."

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August 21, 2014




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