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Community Proposal Could Save Degrading YMCA

Courtney Cameron

After 74 years of operation, the YMCA of Sarasota, Fla., was set to close its doors in September of this year, with president and CEO Steve Bourne telling the Herald Tribune that degrading facilities at the Evalyn Sadlier Jones location had become “unsustainable.”

According to Bourne, membership at the local Y has dwindled to nearly half due to rising competition in the area, causing the board to focus the organization’s resources on maintaining government-funded child welfare services and youth and family programs.

With neighboring YMCAs unable to aid Sarasota with finances or renovation work — the location was in need of $2 million in repairs and equipment updates and $4 million to cover debts — the board was resigned to close until another option was presented via the newly created Save Our Y committee.

A joint effort by Save our Y and the Dreamers Academy, together with the YMCA could pull the facilities back up to operation level, with the Dreamers Academy offering to purchase six acres of the existing campus. If the deal is accepted, the Y could continue to operate uninterrupted.

The groups have already raised more than $400,000 toward fitness center improvements, with a final goal of $1.2 million by mid-September and $2.5 million by the end of the fiscal year. The deal would also involve a change of management and a new business plan.

The National YMCA of the USA has been contacted and has pledged its support for the deal.

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