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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)


Members of the Moneta branch of the Bedford Area Family YMCA recently were informed that the facility will close April 30. Letters were mailed to members and a notice was posted on the facility's door about the closure.

Member Harry Schweizer and his wife, Quita, have been members for several years. They received a letter March 5.

"It came as a big surprise," Schweizer said.

The letter stated that Bedford Area Family YMCA Board of Directors determined it was no longer feasible to continue operating the Moneta branch on a cost-effective basis. The branch currently has 118 memberships consisting of 230 members. A membership level of 250 with approximately 500 members is required to properly maintain and support the branch, the letter said.

"The Bedford Y main branch has been subsidizing operations of the Moneta branch since 2008 and is currently doing so at a level exceeding $50,000 a year," the letter said. "When the losses steadily increased to the current level several years ago, the staff and board pursued every avenue available to remedy the problem. However, all of our efforts were not successful. It is the board of directors' position that the Y cannot continue to sustain these losses without jeopardizing its well-being and viability, it simply is not cost effective."

Schweizer said he and other members are considering what to do as the closing date approaches. Members don't want to travel to the Bedford YMCA or the Franklin County Family YMCA at Smith Mountain Lake, he said. They also don't want to leave other members and instructors they have grown to love.

"It's sort of like one big family," Schweizer said.

Terri Shea, a member at the Moneta branch for eight years, said the facility has always been friendly. Shea visited other fitness centers in the area and said none of them have the same "family feel" as the Moneta branch.

Shea said she is optimistic that the close-knit family will be able to continue after April 30. Members have held meetings to discuss keeping the facility open.

George Aznavorian, co-owner of the building that houses the YMCA's Moneta branch, said he has met with members multiple times since the closing was announced and said the facility is likely to continue after April 30.

Several members have created a board to oversee the creation of a new facility, Aznavorian said. The board has spoken with current members to see who would like to stay on. "My hats are off to those members," he said.

Based on the information gathered, Aznavorian said they have the support of enough members for the new facility to be economically viable. The board would collect membership fees that would go toward paying rent, continuing programs and other costs. "They reacted very quickly," he said.

As for the exercise equipment currently at the Moneta YMCA, Aznavorian said it was purchased through a local fundraiser. Because it was funded by the community, Aznavorian said he is optimistic that it will be able to remain at the location.

Meetings with members are expected to continue, Aznavorian said. More news on the new facility could be expected in the coming weeks.

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March 14, 2018


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