Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Stripped Down Y

The YMCA's in Binghamton and Johnson City were both closed by our flood of September 9.  I've been a member since 1995 and take water aerobics classes there nearly ever week.

Within the next several days, Servicemaster trucks gathered in the Johnson City Y parking lot.  It was obvious they were trying to get back into business.

To realize the extent of the flooding, you must be aware that almost all of the non profits such as the YM and YWCA, the Boys and Girls Club, and similar, were closed at some point due to the flooding.  Many people depend on these organizations for exercise, recreation, socialization and child care.  At least two of these organization provide housing.

Late last week I received a letter from the YMCA.  They were doing everything possible to reopen on Monday, September 19.  They met this goal but when I entered the lobby last evening, I was in shock.

Turns out (when I chatted later with one of the front desk staff, who lives in my neighborhood) I wasn't the only one.

 I don't know exactly what I was expecting but...
The front desk was gone, replaced by some covered card tables and a computer. The carpeting was gone, replaced by stripped down concrete floors. The comfy chairs were gone, replaced by some folding chairs. In the locker room, the lockers were gone, as was almost everyone else.  They thoughtfully provided some hooks to hang clothes on. (I declined)

I took my clothes into the pool area so I could keep an eye on them.  The pool, normally heated, was 71 degrees.  There was only one other person there for the class.  The instructor could have cancelled the class due to policy as there were less than 6 attendees, but there was no way any of us were leaving.  She taught a class of two freezing middle aged women, and probably never had a more enthusiastic class.  (and probably none more fast moving, as we fought to avoid freezing in place.)

It was wonderful.

In chatting with my desk clerk neighbor (she's been working there since before I was a member), she disclosed that the cleanup cost over $1 mil per location.  I asked "how is the Y going to pay for this?"  She told me she really didn't know, but it was being discussed.

In recent years, the Y in Johnson City has become "fancier" - in fact they completed a front desk area remodeling a year or so ago that replaced benches with comfy chairs and even included coffee for the members.

Know what, YMCA?  Last night, all I needed was a water aerobics class in a chilly pool.

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