Wednesday, May 14, 2008

‘Y has let us down’

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As members of the Upcounty YMCA in Montgomery Village, my wife and I were dismayed and disappointed by the Y’s decision to close the Y’s Wellness Center (cardiovascular, exercise equipment and weights) effective June 1 to adult membership (‘‘YMCA drops adult programs,” May 7 article). We have been members for many years and frequently used the Wellness Center.

The Y has left us and many other adult members, with whom we became close, high and dry. Many of us live within a mile or two of the Y, and the Y’s proximity made exercising inviting. Retaining our Y membership, as is being offered by the Y, at Bethesda or Silver Spring is not a viable option because of the distance.

My wife enjoyed her Saturday morning class not only for the health benefits but also for the renewal of friendships with many other villagers.

In a larger sense, the closing of the Y to adult members removes yet another opportunity to maintain a common bond among a core of mostly long-time village residents. How many of us had our children in the Y’s swim program (now also gone because the pool was closed)? As opportunities such as these are taken away, the community suffers.

Putting aside the value of the teen program, one may ask what use will be made of the Y while all these children and teens are in school until late afternoon or on weekends.

There has been no real effort by the Y management, both locally and from the Greater Washington area Y, to meet the adult members to discuss the decision before it was taken or generally, to build a relationship with its membership over the last few years. Only after we received a letter dated May 1 from the Y announcing the change, did I and many others first see a representative from the Greater Washington Area Y management appear at the Y at a popular exercise time (classes being held) in a belated attempt to explain and mollify our concerns.

As we all scurry to find a new health club, we lament the passing of one of the very few ‘‘community” venues in the village. One hopes the alternatives mentioned in The Gazette article can be worked out. From our viewpoint, however, the Y has let us and many other adults down.

To put a twist on a familiar expression, the Y has now ‘‘thrown out the adults with the pool water.”

Alan and Anita Levine, Montgomery Village