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Freedom Valley, Philadelphia YMCAs May Merge

A town hall meeting on the merger is scheduled for Monday evening.

A merger is in the works between the Philadelphia Area YMCA and the Freedom Valley YMCA; however, not everyone is pleased about the prospect or the process. 

Both YMCA boards have voted to approve the merger and members recently received letters explaining the deal and how members can vote.

The Y is holding a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12, at the Spring Valley YMCA on Linfield-Trappe Road in Limerick. This town hall comes in advance of the vote, which is scheduled to happen at Chadwick's Restaurant in Audubon on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.

Philadelphia Area YMCA CEO John Flynn told Patch in a phone interview that the merger came about as the two organizations began working more closely together.

"We realized that we could be a stronger organization if we combined resources," Flynn said. 

Flynn said that the merger will expand the services that the YMCA is able to offer members in both regions and hopefully will allow the YMCA to add facilities in areas that don't currently have them, such as King of Prussia and Conshohocken. 

According to Flynn, the merger will not affect the cost of joining the YMCA.

"Membership rates will not change and actually should be more stable over time due to the larger organization," Flynn told Patch.

Several YMCA members have told Patch that they do not approve of the merger and don't feel it will benefit them.

Member Deana Cortino said in an e-mail that she has multiple concerns, including overcrowding of the facilities.

"Our pool on any given day is crowded enough with our own members of the community," Cortino wrote. "The Philadelphia Y's do not have a pool, do we really think that they will not fight for rights to use our pool?"

[Editor's note: For clarification, it should be noted that all Philadelphia YMCAs do have indoor pools. A list of the branches can be found here.]

Cortino said the fitness center and classes are also crowded a majority of the time and she is worried that allowing more members in will contribute to even more overcrowding.  

Additionally, Cortino said it seems like the merger is a done deal regardless of the vote and she feels that "the merger has been very behind the scenes, with not wanting the members to have a lot of information."

Member John Lightcap also expressed concerns about the vote. 

"I don't like how they're controlling the vote," Lightcap said. 

The YMCA has several pages on its website dedicated to explaining the effects of the merger and the process so far. 

During the town hall on Monday evening, several board members will be attending to answer questions: 

  • Jay Schaeffer, President & CEO, Freedom Valley YMCA
  • John Flynn, President & CEO, Philadelphia YMCA & Vicinity
  • Sandy Lipstein, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Freedom Valley YMCA

Should the membership approves the merger, it will be effective on Jan. 1, 2013.

Mr. H November 12, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Not only that, but traveling to the YMCA from Philadelphia is a big undertaking for most who use those YMCAs. The truth is, those members just aren't interested and most do not even have the resources to make such a trip. They have a much closer mega Y in Ambler, and they don't even go there. Strangely, many of the members who have lodged complaints have also complained that the vote is taking place where it is, since it is a long way to travel (when it really isn't that far at all). Why do they think members of Philadelphia Ys are going make the trip up here, when they don't even want to travel a few miles for the vote? The merger will be good for everyone and will benefit the Ys in this area in numerous ways. It would be a shame if this doesn't happen due to misinformation and memebers getting upset about things that won't even happen.
Lorraine613 November 13, 2012 at 02:31 AM
To Tony - I think intheweeds was being sarcastic when he said that you get what you pay for meaning the Patch is free. Also, to intheweeds, I guess you did not read the editor's note where correction WAS made about the Philadelphia Y's having pools. Why would these people think that all the people from Philadelphia would come up here just for a pool? I sense fear again that all people from the city will come up and our crime rates will rise again.
T Rose November 13, 2012 at 08:50 PM
The benefits listed have mainly been on the business side allowing for expansions of programs and YMCAs. However, they have not worked out details of what the merger will mean down the road for the members, other than that everything will remain status quo "for now". Membership rates and class fee schedules are run entirely different for both areas. They have not decided how these two systems will be brought together. This is just one issue facing members that has not been answered. Also, you can not keep people out of a YMCA's pool area once they have entered the building, even if it is designated for those members only. It's not fair to either party. However, I don't believe any YMCA will have an excess of extra members. Instead of painting a rosey picture on everything, I believe they need to work out these details so members have a clearer vision of the impact it will have on them as individuals not just the communities. The YMCAs have a wonderful impact on the communities that they serve and I believe with or without the merger they will continue to do this. I just believe that more work needs to be done on the details. They haven't even worked out how the vote will be done on Thursday. Not to mention, an absentee ballot is not being considered. The reason they've given is flimsy at best. No matter how many show up to vote, I can't imagine it will be a majority vote. Please come out and vote.
Tom November 14, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Buck ... I responded to your comments on another online paper so this is a little repetitive. I am on the board of the Freedom Valley Y and I am one of a small number of people who set the Exec Directors compensation and retirement package. Jay is compensated within the national YMCA's published guidelines. If he worked for a "For Profit" company he would probably make significantly more. He announced his retirement plans to us at least a year before discussions started with Philly. His retirement package will be well deserved and it will have nothing to do with the merger. You are promoting nonsense. Nothing you say is factual. This merger will allow us to increase our ability to raise charitable contributions. Large companies like Comcast don't donate to areas like Phoenixville. They like to donate to organizations that have a large number of members and that are affiliated with a metropolitan area. Moreover every board member like myself can approach many more business contacts and friends for donations once we are part of a Y that has a much larger territory. As an example I am closely affiliated with 15 owners of privately owned family businesses. Only 2 of these 15 live within the boundaries of the Freedom Valley Y. With the merger there is 10 of these business owners that live within the expanded boundaries of the merged Y. Every board member ... both on the FV Y and the Philly Y will have many more contacts to approach for donations.
Pierre Le Fleche November 16, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Buck Davis-how arrogant you are! Your statements are irrelevant and unfounded and deserve nothing but contempt..Why don't you firstly get your facts right before you spread evil lies and rumors, and secondly realize that your fears of a merger that makes sense are because you are a bigot and a racist! Why not use this energy and passion you have to spread some compassion and kindness to people less fortunate ..The YMCA does so much for the communities that they serve...In fact without the vision of the Exec Director whom you attack ,there would be no SV...or a thriving Pottstown!

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