July 23, 2019
It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you that the two Sarasota Family YMCA fitness centers will close permanently on Friday, September 13, 2019 at 5 p.m. These fitness centers are the Evalyn Sadlier Jones Branch at Potter Park Drive and the Frank G. Berlin Sr. Branch on South Euclid Avenue.
Despite best efforts that were made to try to stabilize the operations of those fitness centers, they have operated at a financial loss for the past several years and the YMCA can no longer sustain them. With the closing of these fitness centers, the YMCA Board will be turning 100% of its focus to operating the YMCA’s ongoing foster care and social services programs that have served vulnerable populations in this community for many decades, including abused, neglected and at-risk children. The YMCA’s mission has always been to meet community needs, and in continuing to operate these important foster care and social service programs this mission of the YMCA will continue to be fulfilled.
YMCA leaders and board members considered closure of the fitness centers as the last possible alternative. This decision was finally made after substantial cost cutting, changes to pricing, modifications of program offerings, and other actions failed to make a measurable improvement. We reached out to the national YMCA organization and other Florida YMCA’s in an effort to merge the Sarasota fitness centers into other YMCA’s, without success. We also spoke with important funders in the community seeking financial support but those efforts were not fruitful.
Here is what happens next:
Members will have access to both fitness centers through 5pm on Friday, September 13, 2019.
The last membership payment draft will be on August 15, 2019.
Members who have prepaid their annual or semi-annual membership fee will receive a prorated refund.
Programs and sports activities will not be continued past the closure date and refunds will be processed on a pro-rated basis.
The before and after-school program will continue at the Southside, Gocio and Fruitville elementary schools.
This is not the outcome we wanted. Our hearts go out to everyone in the extended Sarasota YMCA family affected by this. The YMCA exists to serve the needs of the community and it will continue that mission through our foster care and social services programs.
Please reach out to managers and administration with any questions you have. We will do all we can to provide answers and support during this process.
Why are you closing?
The branches have been experiencing a continual loss in membership and program participation that has resulted in financial loss over many years. The YMCA cannot sustain continuing losses.
What did you do to try and prevent the branches from closing?
The YMCA has cut cost every year by restructuring staff and eliminating positions, outsourcing some tasks, eliminating underperforming programs, eliminating towel service and adjusting insurance coverages. The YMCA has changed membership pricing multiple times in an attempt to attract more members. The YMCA stepped up efforts to raise funds through grant writing and contribution support from members and the community. The YMCA has sold underutilized property to reinvest into the branches and lastly the YMCA sought to merge the branches with other YMCAs. None proved enough.
Will members be charged in the month of August? Will they still be able to use the facilities?
Yes. Membership drafts will occur on the 1st and 15th of August for the month of August. There will be no draft for the month of September through the close date. Members who paid for an annual or semi-annual membership in advance will receive pro-rated refunds. All members may use the facilities through the close date of Friday, September 13, 2019.
Will there be refunds for any programs or packages paid past August?
Most of our programs will be completed by the end of August. Any members who have paid for packages or classes beyond August will receive a refund.
What is your advice to program participants about where else they should go?
Please consult with your program director who will be able to assist you with options.
What is happening to staff?
The YMCA is incredibly grateful to the hard working and dedicated staff. Every effort will be made to connect the staff to resources and to support them during this transition.