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Published: Thursday, 8/6/2009

Moody calls for keeping South Toledo YMCA open

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Mayoral candidate Jim Moody said today that the YMCA of Greater Toledo should give neighbors that have come to rely on the South Toledo YMCA a chance to keep it operational.

As one solution, Mr. Moody, a Republican and one of six candidates for mayor on the Sept. 15 primary ballot, called on the Lucas County commissioners to direct more of their state and federal funding for day care to the YMCA facility on Woodsdale Park Drive in South Toledo.

"I have had many neighbors contact me who are willing to pitch in and 'save the Y,' " Mr. Moody said. "It is important that we explore all options in a timely manner to see if funding solutions can be found."

He said city officials can't prevent the YMCA from closing, but said the YMCA owes it to the neighbors to give them a "goal" of what would be required to give the 55-year-old facility a new lease on life. Meeting that goal could mean membership and fund-raising drives.

"There's just been a complete lack of communication," Mr. Moody said.

Neighbors "have a right to know why the rug is being pulled out from under them."

The YMCA and Jewish Community Center of Greater Toledo has announced plans to close the South Toledo facility, for budget reasons, on Aug. 29 and hand over the keys at no charge to fast-growing CedarCreek Church.

The church plans a $1.5 million to $2 million renovation and expansion of the facility.

The Y's decision to close the branch and donate the complex, appraised at $445,400, to the church, has been unpopular with many neighbors and club members, who mourn the loss of an anchor to their community.

County Commission President Pete Gerken rejected Mr. Moody's suggestion of directing day care resources to the South Toledo Y as "uninformed." He said the state allocates day care funds on a customer-choice basis, with consumers deciding which licensed facilities to patronize.

Mr. Gerken said the commissioners don't have the power to reallocate those dollars. But he said the YMCA could try to recruit more day care users to the South Toledo Y.

Y leaders say they have told South Toledo Y members the popular gymnastics program there will be relocated to the Perrysburg YMCA; the swimming program will to relocated to the East Toledo YMCA, and the members who use the South branch for a fitness center should use the Morse Center YMCA on the Health Science Campus of the University of Toledo, the former Medical College of Ohio.

That has not pleased many neighborhood residents who say the South Toledo Y is a "family Y" and a neighborhood hub.

Cooper Suter, of Ogden Avenue in South Toledo, a leader of a group formed to keep the branch open, said Wednesday that Y officials had not yet responded to calls from the group to hold a public meeting at the branch with Y and

city officials to discuss ways of keeping the branch open.

Contact Tom Troy at:tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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