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Members of Bankrupted YMCA to Be Served by Neighboring Y

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Copyright 2013 The Press Enterprise, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

The Press Enterprise
October 24, 2013, Thursday
WEEKLY; Pg. P1
577 words
OC'S YMCA TO SERVE RIVERSIDE
ALICIA ROBINSON STAFF WRITER AROBINSON@PE.COM

The YMCA of Orange County plans to serve the Riverside area, which lost its own Y to bankruptcy in January, but officials could not yet say when they would begin or what programs would be offered.

The Orange County Y has received permission from the national YMCA organization to take over the Riverside service area, spokeswoman Lillie Davis said Oct. 15. YMCA of the USA spokesman Brad McDermott confirmed Oct. 16 that the Orange County Y applied for and was given the OK in February.

Davis said officials are still figuring out when and where they'll operate and what they'll offer beyond an adult soccer program planned for November.

Before the bankruptcy, the Riverside Y had provided fitness classes, sports and child care programs around the county, but it wasn't immediately clear which communities, other than Riverside, the Orange County Y would serve.

The Riverside Y at one time provided after-school programs to three districts, and ran facilities in Riverside, Hemet, Temecula and Jurupa Valley. The Jurupa Valley operation was taken over by the Corona-Norco Family YMCA. The other facilities closed.

The bankruptcy was announced as a Chapter 11 filing that would allow for reorganization. The Orange County Y intended to take over the ailing Riverside operation and had already started lending it money, but the deal fell through when the filing was changed to Chapter 7 and the Riverside facility closed.

Jeff McBride, CEO of the Orange County Y, could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

"We do intend to build and grow (in Riverside) in the future," Davis said, adding that the goal "would be to serve the community in the ways that are needed."

VACANT BUILDING

The fate of the Riverside Y's Jefferson Street building also remains up in the air.

Provident Bank CEO Craig Blunden said the bank, which was among the YMCA's largest creditors, obtained the building through a foreclosure sale and has listed it for sale at $2.49 million.

Although the bankruptcy process wrapped up over the summer, its exact cause remains in dispute.

Former Riverside YMCA CEO Jaclyn Fielder has said existing financial troubles were compounded by the expensive and ultimately failed attempt to open a new Temecula facility. But some former Riverside Y members have accused officials of mismanagement, saying they knew something was wrong because employee checks regularly bounced and members were asked to chip in for basic supplies such as paper towels.

According to court documents, the bankruptcy trustee reported that, after paying a number of outstanding employee checks, the Riverside Y closed with less than $26,000 in cash, which went to Provident.

The YMCA of Orange County provided before- and after-school programs on more than 50 campuses and served more than 33,500 youths and adults with health and wellness programs as of 2011, according to an online tax filing. That year, its total revenue was $28.5 million and expenses were $27.1 million.

Based in Tustin, the Orange County Y operates facilities in seven cities including Fullerton, Mission Viejo and Yorba Linda.

Riverside Councilman Chris Mac Arthur, who represents an area that includes the shuttered Y, said that when it closed, "I think the entire community was disappointed. I was there the day that it opened in 1968."

He hadn't heard about the move by Orange County, but said "I'm in favor of any group that is going to provide additional opportunities for children."

October 24, 2013

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