Open letter to Board:
Previous letters have called attention to the suffering to seniors, disadvantaged people, members, and staff caused by the Y’s shutdown without warning on March 19, 2010. (see letters, Hoboken Reporter, May 16 and April 4). If the Y does not eventually re-open, the whole community will suffer an irreparable loss. We fear that our beloved Y, which has played such a wonderful role in our community since 1883, is going to disappear forever.
We hope we are unduly alarmist and that the Y will survive. However, our fears come not from our imagination, but from statements made by the Board and last director.
Members and staff were reassured until the last day that there would be no shutdown. Because of this, decisions were made to join or renew membership, and by staff not to take other jobs.
The article in the May 2 Hoboken Reporter, “Why did the Y close abruptly?” contains many troubling statements:
“On that Friday, a misleading press release was taped to the door at 1301 Washington St. stating that the YMCA was closing to begin a $15 million renovation project. Board members later admitted that the project wasn’t exactly the reason for closing. Money was. ‘We really just ran out of funds,’ said board President Paul Somerville last week.
‘The thought of selling the building has probably come up several times over the years’, Somerville said. ‘There was a moment there [recently] when we thought that might happen. The difference between a month ago and today is that we were potentially planning for a death and a funeral. Now we’re planning for a birth and a renaissance. The YMCA is going to survive.’”
Conclusion: the Board admits it misrepresented the reason for closing, that selling the building was discussed for the last few years, and that the death of the Y was a very real possibility on the day it shut down.
If they were planning for a funeral a month ago, why then at that time did the Board deny it? In view of these contradictions what should we believe now?
We are trying to understand why these misleading statements were made. Perhaps the Board felt that being open would harm their ability to get needed funding. However at this point in time denial and secrecy are not options. The Board must add new people and answer questions. Ideas may come forth on how to save the Y and better manage it. In fact it may be that such a process will be seen by creditors, benefactors, and grant givers as a demonstration that the community values its YMCA and will fight to save it.
Who owns the Hoboken YMCA and its building? Are they accountable to its members and the community?
Can the Board no matter how well intentioned, afford not to be candid? Who is the Board accountable to?
Phillip and Carol Fraley