A merger is in the works between the Philadelphia Area YMCA and the Freedom Valley YMCA; however, not everyone is pleased about the prospect or the process.
Both YMCA boards have voted to approve the merger and members recently received letters explaining the deal and how members can vote.
The Y is holding a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12, at the Spring Valley YMCA on Linfield-Trappe Road in Limerick. This town hall comes in advance of the vote, which is scheduled to happen at Chadwick's Restaurant in Audubon on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.
Philadelphia Area YMCA CEO John Flynn told Patch in a phone interview that the merger came about as the two organizations began working more closely together.
"We realized that we could be a stronger organization if we combined resources," Flynn said.
Flynn said that the merger will expand the services that the YMCA is able to offer members in both regions and hopefully will allow the YMCA to add facilities in areas that don't currently have them, such as King of Prussia and Conshohocken.
According to Flynn, the merger will not affect the cost of joining the YMCA.
"Membership rates will not change and actually should be more stable over time due to the larger organization," Flynn told Patch.
Several YMCA members have told Patch that they do not approve of the merger and don't feel it will benefit them.
Member Deana Cortino said in an e-mail that she has multiple concerns, including overcrowding of the facilities.
"Our pool on any given day is crowded enough with our own members of the community," Cortino wrote. "The Philadelphia Y's do not have a pool, do we really think that they will not fight for rights to use our pool?"
[Editor's note: For clarification, it should be noted that all Philadelphia YMCAs do have indoor pools. A list of the branches can be found here.]
Cortino said the fitness center and classes are also crowded a majority of the time and she is worried that allowing more members in will contribute to even more overcrowding.
Additionally, Cortino said it seems like the merger is a done deal regardless of the vote and she feels that "the merger has been very behind the scenes, with not wanting the members to have a lot of information."
Member John Lightcap also expressed concerns about the vote.
"I don't like how they're controlling the vote," Lightcap said.
The YMCA has several pages on its website dedicated to explaining the effects of the merger and the process so far.
During the town hall on Monday evening, several board members will be attending to answer questions:
- Jay Schaeffer, President & CEO, Freedom Valley YMCA
- John Flynn, President & CEO, Philadelphia YMCA & Vicinity
- Sandy Lipstein, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Freedom Valley YMCA
Should the membership approves the merger, it will be effective on Jan. 1, 2013.