It's a very sad day indeed for Norwalk and for Norwalk Y members. There is a Norwalk Y no longer. Perhaps this is how Brooklyn felt when the Brooklyn Dodgers left their hometown in the middle of the night. Or maybe how Madoff's clients felt when they found they'd been gulled.
As members, we've been systematically kept in the dark. Norwalk residents, Y members and even Y employees had no idea things were so dire that the Y had to close. Were we told that there was some sort of financial crisis? We were not. Was there any sort of special "Save The Y" fundraiser? There was not. Was there a telethon, as in days gone by? A charity ball? Not this time, no. Were we, as members, asked for more donations or a rate increase? No again.
There was the letter from management a year and half ago asking members to grant the board the power to make all the decisions. I guess that was clue number one.
The letter welcomed feedback from members. I sent off my suggestions. (None of which required more than a few bucks.) Simple things like a towel rack by the pool ladder instead of 75 feet away, a few hooks on dressing room doors, a swim lane for adults-only during the kids’ summer camp season. And a return to the day of a heated diving well. CEO Michael Case’s response was something less than warm and fuzzy. Here’s an excerpt:
To your points, I will address them each:
If you are a swimmer, you have certainly noticed that the pools have been perfect since we refurbished them last July after the basement flooding. All three pools are heated 24 hours per day with new gas heaters that have been procured by me within the past year at great expense (Aux Pool, Dive well and Main pool).
With regard to your lane request for the aux pool, which is indeed warmer than the Main Pool (and specifically heated to a higher degree for children’s lessons and therapeutic reasons…). My mission at the YMCA, which I would remind you is a charity and not a health club, is to promote youth development, healthy living and social responsibility and so we work with many diverse groups of children. I won’t be changing that any time soon.
A towel rack was installed on the wall by the Divewell. I would suggest you use that rack to hang your towel. I will not be installing another over there as it is infrequently used as it is and usually only by the dive teams who regularly dive in our well.
As far as my membership base, since July of 2009 when I took this position, the membership numbers have risen from 1167 to over 2800 membership units, so I don’t agree with your dwindling assessment.
The less-than-welcoming and self-aggrandizing tone toward those suggestions for common sense improvements should have been clue number two. But not a hint that the end was near.
Y management has a history of bad decisions. There was the land deal in South Salem, New York. Who knew about that? Land was purchased by the Y to develop a camp, like South Salem is around the corner from SoNo. Oops, no due diligence done (even though the board at the time was stuffed with realtors). South Salem prohibits the Y to build a camp. The land was then sold at a huge loss. Did the members know anything about the initial purchase? No. Did they know anything about the sale as a loss? Or to whom this property was sold? No again. Instead, all we get from the Board is, "Trust us."
Well, would you trust them?