Local News

Lakewood Y's Members Pushing Hard to Keep Their Facility From Closing

Posted May 28, 2007
Updated May 29, 2007

— The Lakewood YMCA has been a fixture in its Durham neighborhood for 40 years, but now there's talk about closing it.

The people who want to keep the YMCA open are passing out flyers advertising a meeting Wednesday — placing them on bulletin boards, leaving them on cars and handing them out in person.

After the Lakewood Y’s board of directors announced it's considering closing the facility, it hosted an information session with members last week.

YMCA leaders say the Lakewood branch loses $400,000 every year, and the problem is twofold. The facility is old and needs a lot of improvement, they say, and membership is down.

The Lakewood branch has about 1,000 memberships at the Y, but fewer than half come regularly.

“The downtown YMCA in Durham is two miles away. from the Lakewood YMCA. That's a problem. You're within the footprint of another facility,” said Jennifer nelson of the YMCA.

Those who live in this area and have been going here for years, say they want to do everything they can to keep this Y open, however. It's been open since 1966.

“We're concerned with losing that valuable service, but we're also concerned (that) if there is no way to save the Y at all, what's going to go in there afterward,” said Frances Kerr of the group trying to save the Lakewood Y.

The group is hoping a community meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Lyon Park Community Center will get everyone together to come up with another option.

“If they come up with a great alternative, we certainly want to hear it,” Nelson said.

And while the odds might not be in their favor, the group is going to try.


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  • boysmom May 29, 2007

    Did anyone else recognize Jennifer Nelson, spokesperson for the YMCA, as Jennifer Julian, the former troubleshooter on WTVD11? Was it my imagination?

  • MR EVANS May 29, 2007

    I can understand why the community wants to keep the Lakewood YMCA open. I lived in the Lakewood area about 20 years ago and loved going to the Y on a regular basis. The Downtown YMCA doesn't have the same feel of the Lakewood center. It may be newer but it's not better. Anyone that was once a patron of the old center can tell you that it's not same at the new center. I think the administrators should make adjustment to the financial planning rather than closing the facility. After losing 400,000 for a couple of year you would think someone would be analize where there are expenses that are not needed in order to stay open.

  • andrewsnc5 May 29, 2007

    A solution CAN be found if all parties are willing to cooperate and negotiate in good faith. As Durham, and in particular the Tuscaloosa Lakewood (& surrounding) neighborhoods continue to improve by investing in itself, we need to maintain strong anchors to foster this stability. The Lakewood Y no doubt needs physical improvements, and membership increases. Its got a much wider variety of facilities available than the other 2 Y's. One has to ask, "Why has this facility not been properly maintained and equipment updated?" Could it be that membership numbers are reflected in this lack of investment? To open one Y, and the expense of another? Is this good for the members and communities involved?

    Again, a workable solution CAN be found if people are willing to be involved, and not sit on the sidelines and make unhelpful one line jabs.

  • daMoFo May 29, 2007

    There is no agreeable solution for all involved. The YMCA doesn't want to continue losing $400,000 a year. Plus it's dumb to keep it open when there is a newer facility 2 miles away. Why can't the people at the old Y just go to the new one?

  • Durham-Raleigh May 29, 2007

    I should note and clarify that I'm not saying I think that they are too close, necessarily. I was responding to an earlier post about the YMCA "leaving Durham," which is not the case.

    The Tuscaloosa-Lakewood neighborhood is a terrific and strong community organization and I support their efforts to keep the Lakewood Y open. Frankly, I wouldn't mind seeing it go to a city-run facility -- given the obnoxious and unfortunate policy changes around support for gay/lesbian families after the Y's in Durham changed from a Durham-run organization to a more conservative Triangle-wide YMCA organization a few years back.

  • mramorak May 29, 2007

    Thewayitis its not just the ymca its schools also.But ill have to say i agree with durham-raleigh they are just too close.

  • bszom May 29, 2007

    I'm saddened by your comments, "the way it is." Seems that you live a very sheltered life. By avoiding going in to "those areas" you miss the richness and diversity that Durham is all about. I'm really surprised you moved to Durham at all, why not Cary or suburban Raleigh where you don't have to touch elbows with the "poorer" people? I encourage you to work on getting over your biases and venture into those neighborhoods that you so readily avoid. With an open mind, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

  • Lord Stanley May 29, 2007

    That Y has a lot of history with me and my core group of friends... The Lakewood YMCA is basically why I have those friends, why I'm engaged, why I've met so many great people in the Durham area, and where I first started working at age 15. The place is great.

  • herbie versmels May 29, 2007

    that place went down hill since michael peterson went to the big house

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy May 29, 2007

    I see some nice BIG condo's in the future!