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Downtown Charleston YMCA to cease operations Oct. 4

YMCA downtown closing

A volunteer vacuums the floor at the Downtown Charleston YMCA branch. The branch announced it would cease operations on Oct. 4.

Due to a lack of revenue from low membership, the downtown Charleston YMCA will cease its operations on Oct. 4, said Anthony Lewis, communications director for the YMCA of Kanawha Valley.

Those who hold current memberships will still be able to use the fitness center, classes and services at the YMCA’s main facility on Hillcrest Drive, and Lewis said he hopes most of the downtown location’s members will go that route.

“There is a certain amount of members that we needed to maintain [the YMCA], and it was, we weren’t able to do that with the number of people we had,” Lewis said. “The building usage even, paying our lease, our workers and maintenance costs — without members, you know, the board made the decision to close.”

Lewis said swimming lessons will still be taught at the facility until Oct. 25 since people paid for blocks of sessions ahead of time, and those at the YMCA wanted to honor the deals. All other operations — classes, open gym, open swim and other services — will end Oct. 4. If individuals have questions about their membership, they can call the downtown YMCA’s desk and workers there should be able to help them, Lewis said.

The downtown YMCA opened on Quarrier Street in August 2018. The building is owned by the YWCA, which before last year leased the fitness center to Nautilus, which operates fitness centers in the Kanawha Valley.

Now that the YMCA is moving out, Debby Weinstein, CEO at the Charleston YWCA, said she’s unsure what will happen with the building.

“It’s terribly unfortunate that this wasn’t able to be a successful venture. We both, the YMCA and YWCA, both entities tried really hard to make this work and, you know, we have no plans with the building right now,” Weinstein said “We certainly would entertain the possibility of another fitness entity coming in, or any other parties that may be interested in the building.”

Lewis said that right now, administrators at the YMCA of Kanawha Valley are focused on figuring out the logistics to mesh the classes and services currently offered at the downtown location into a schedule at the main facility on Hillcrest Drive, off Greenbrier Street.

Currently, Lewis said, he’s unaware if anyone who works at the downtown location will lose their jobs. Most of the desk staff and others who work there were trained at the main facility and split their shifts between locations already. If fitness classes are cut in the future, then there is a chance instructors could be let go, but nothing has been announced yet, according to Lewis.

Lewis did not have numbers on hand Thursday regarding how many people were members at the downtown location. While a membership at any YMCA of the Kanawha Valley allows someone to access services at any location, dues and payments are only received by the facility where someone is signed up.

Lewis said that board members at the YMCA of the Kanawha Valley made the decision to shutdown the downtown location last week. The organization will continue its partnership with Coonskin Park, as well as other community agencies.

While there may not a be a physical location for the YMCA in downtown Charleston anymore, Lewis said the organization will remain dedicated to supporting members of the Charleston community.

“That is still a priority of ours, and it always will be. It just may look a little different now,” Lewis said.

Caity Coyne is a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. Reach Caity Coyne at caity.coyne@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-7939 or follow @CaityCoyne on Twitter.

Funerals for Sunday, September 22, 2019

Browning, Thelma - 1 p.m., Koontz Funeral Home, Hamlin.

Cooper, Corey- 2 p.m., Henson & Kitchen Funeral Mortuary, Huntington.

Pennington, Connie- 2 p.m., White Cemetery, Danese. 

Waybright, Gerald- 3:30 p.m., Pickens Cemetery, Pickens. 

Young, Susan- 3 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.