News

Editorial: Damage control at the Palo Alto YMCA

Y struggles with longtime members over Page Mill facility

Many organizations have an immensely difficult time conveying bad news to their customers. Out of a desire to not displease or upset people, they provide too little information or spin the information in a way that ultimately comes back to bite them.

Nonprofits are often particularly inept at communicating bad news because their leadership teams generally have no experience in crisis management and they are understandably anxious about generous supporters who could sour on the organization in the face of financial or other difficulties.

The result is often a poorly thought-out strategy of providing limited or no information and believing that the problem can be contained and kept from the media and the broader public.

It is surprising and disappointing that an organization as large and well-respected as the YMCA of Silicon Valley, with local boards filled with prominent local people, could have stumbled so badly in the last two weeks over the Page Mill branch's problems.

Stung by the intensity of reaction to its announcement that the Page Mill YMCA would close Oct. 1, ill-prepared YMCA officials are now scrambling to contain the upset of many long-time members.

The Page Mill fitness center, located in the basement of an office building in the Palo Alto Square complex and surrounded by venture capital and law firms, has always been somewhat of a stepchild facility among Ys because of its lack of a family focus or programs that reflect the mission of the YMCA.

But as the reaction to the closure announcement clearly shows, its members care deeply about the community that has formed at the facility and are not enthusiastic about moving to either the Ross Road or the East Palo Alto branches or to another gym.

In their attempt to respond to upset Page Mill members by holding a public meeting Wednesday night to explain its actions, YMCA executives managed to make matters worse by barring the media from the meeting.

Reporters spotted by YMCA officials were asked to leave the meeting in spite of it being open to anyone else, YMCA member or not, who walked into Unitarian Universalist Church. Attendees were not asked to show their YMCA cards or verify they were members.

The Weekly had sent staff to videotape the meeting so it could be posted on our website for those unable to attend the 5 p.m. meeting, a service the Y should have welcomed.

Explanations given for excluding reporters included concern over the seating capacity of the room and their possible effect on attendees expressing their opinions.

YMCA officials knew the press would be attending, so their attempt to prevent coverage of the meeting was deliberate and reflected the same poor judgment that has characterized the last two weeks.

The YMCA is a nonprofit organization that enjoys broad support, participation and funding from Palo Alto residents, and operates its Ross Road facility under a use permit with the city. To exclude anyone from a meeting designed to explain the Y's actions creates yet another controversy and only reinforces the suspicions that not all information is being shared.

Data distributed at the meeting to explain the decision to close the facility shows that the Page Mill center has seen a gradual decline in members and operates at a deficit. Some members challenge that data because users of one YMCA facility don't necessarily belong to that branch. Bay Area-wide members, while they might not designate Page Mill as their "home" branch, pay a slightly higher fee to have access to all 29 YMCAs in the Bay Area. Any member can also pay a small daily fee to use a Y that is not their home gym.

The YMCA obviously has the right, if not the duty, to manage its facilities to ensure they are both meeting the mission of the Y and not imposing an excessive financial burden on the organization.

The problem is that YMCA officials botched the process of evaluating the future of the Page Mill Y, and in doing so lost the confidence and support of many of its members and risks losing support of the general public.

The membership and users of the Page Mill facility should have been informed and involved long before any decisions were made about the center's future and provided with the same data that management and the board were evaluating.

Had that open communication strategy been followed, instead of a strategy of secrecy and limited explanation, the YMCA could have maintained a good relationship with its members and, perhaps, developed an alternative plan that would have preserved the facility.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2014 at 9:54 am

Thank you for this editorial raising a lot of the points felt by many of us.

Are you as journalists attempting to do any follow up? Are you attempting to talk to the board to find some of the answers to these questions? Were you the only reporters not allowed into the meeting or were there tv channels there also?

There seems to be a lot of rallying by members to get the Y to change heart or even to take over the gym by another organization or by the members themselves? Are you following this endeavor?

Thank you for making this community issue something that the whole of Palo Alto can understand.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bunny Wunny
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2014 at 10:26 am

Bunny Wunny is a registered user.

Thank you for your thoughtful editorial.

This point that you made is very important IMHO:

"Data distributed at the meeting to explain the decision to close the facility shows that the Page Mill center has seen a gradual decline in members and operates at a deficit. Some members challenge that data because users of one YMCA facility don't necessarily belong to that branch. Bay Area-wide members, while they might not designate Page Mill as their "home" branch, pay a slightly higher fee to have access to all 29 YMCAs in the Bay Area. Any member can also pay a small daily fee to use a Y that is not their home gym."

I am one of those members that started at Ross and migrated to Page Mill but never changed my "home branch". I had no idea that this was important for the accounting of the facilities' finances since with the card read at every visit they had the information of who is actually using the branch. Given that this is a non-profit though, it's likely they never attempted to reconcile this info. It is therefore possible that Page Mill has many more real members than are accounted for.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by In the dark
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 18, 2014 at 11:00 am

Does SV YMCA have a legal obligation to not close down the Page Mill location? Is it required by law to get approval from a government entity to make a business decision deemed necessary to improve its organization? I just don't know if non-profit organizations are held to certain criteria when making decisions such as closing operations. Would the same happen if Second Harvest shuttered its doors?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chas
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 18, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Your editorial indicates that "it is surprising and disappointing" that the Y's management "could have stumbled so badly" in its handling of the Page Mill branch problems. Don't be guilty of attributing an abundance of brilliance and competence to Y management.

As for the Boards: They are indeed filled with our town's brightest, smartest and most-caring folks. I watched the Y management at one branch use its board mainly to raise money – the staff was either afraid of or too arrogant to ask a board member for help. The result was a waste of a lot of available talent.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by pm_ymca_the_best
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Excellent editorial.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SJ
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 18, 2014 at 1:06 pm


We continue to try to get the financial information the SV used to make their decision. At Wednesday's meeting Elizabeth said that she would download the specific information we have been asking for. We still don't have it.

The Board meetings are NOT pen to the public; we have no way to speak directly to the Board and determine what data was given to them by Elizabeth.

Todays editorial in the Palo Alto Weekly says it all very well: Web Link

"Had open communication strategy been followed, instead of a strategy of secrecy and limited explanation, the YMCA could maintained a good relationship with its members and, perhaps, developed an alternate plan that would have preserved the facility"


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sally schwartz
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm

This is a great article that really explains the situation and why it's causing upset. Members are currently working to get our hands on the acurate financials, and other information to see what our next steps will be.

Please email our official members email address to be a part of keeping our gym open, exploring our options,and to get ongoing news, and ways you can help now. Email pagemillymcamembers@outlook.com
Also find our Facebook page at save the page mill YMCA on Facebook.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Y Member
a resident of Los Altos
on Jul 18, 2014 at 1:18 pm

The Y leadership is disappointing at best, completely incompetent at worst. The closing of the Page Mill Y is just one recent, more widely known incident. The same C-level officials and board ALSO failed to inform the families who use their after-school child care service of the price hike. The following debacle was poorly managed. You would have thought they would learn a good lesson from that situation. Personally, I'm not going to renew my Y membership and will discourage friends and family to do the same.

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Local reader
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 18, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Thanks fo the good coverage of this issue. Two friends are members, and were recently discussing this case. (One of them, an experienced CEO, had some forthright criticisms of the Y boards' procedures and communications.)

I was slightly surprised at your characterization of the boards' stumbling only "in the last two weeks." Y users were already sounding off in great numbers here three and a half weeks ago, after earlier announcements: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PageMillTown
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2014 at 1:37 pm

We would like to hear as many people's opinions and desires for the new Page Mill Gym. We are going to make an effort to take over the space after YMCA SV drops it. (They are, by the way, making a huge mistake in the way they've carried this out, as well as the decision to close).

We intend to build the new gym starting with the "core values."

What do you want in the new gym? Please share your info and thoughts with us.

PageMillTown@gmail.com

Thank you. And please continue to prioritize this - as this is YOUR COMMUNITY now.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Midtown Guy
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Page Mill Y members feel on the receiving end of divorce; blindsided by a partner (the Silicon Valley board) who refuses to hear arguments for saving the relationship. Attending the public meeting Thursday, I felt board member John Savage and CEO Kathy Ruggins we're hiding something, repeatedly avoiding a back-and- forth dialogue with members, stonewalling with a preset position that sounded extremely prejudicial. We live in an amazing demographic with some I if the smartest people on the planet, so listening to members would easily have provided solutions. Instead , the leadership style here is autocratic, as if the only answers are to come from the top down. What do these people do to earn their huge salaries, except hide, refuse to let air and sun into their process, shut out the free press and stifle participatory democracy? They ought to be ashamed, they ought to admit a mistake, they ought to trust the members to help with the mission of saving the Y.
I wish some if the newly minted millionaires would give to save a facility needed by the older demographic. Seniors in particular need as much attention as the children at the other end if the curve.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SJ
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 18, 2014 at 2:12 pm

There was NO data distributed at the meeting. Written information was requested but not was provided. Members with financial backgrounds in the audience asked to have Elizabeth explain how she arrived at the figures that resulted in the bar graph and pie chart. Answers were not forthcoming.

We have diligently been trying to get the financial information the SV used to make their decision. At Wednesday's meeting Elizabeth said that she would download the specific information we have been asking for. We still don't have it.

The Board meetings are NOT open to the public; we have no way to speak directly to the Board and determine what data was given to them by Elizabeth.

Until we have it there is no way members will accept Elizabeth's statements about finances. If you have been reading Elizabeth's statements in the papers you recall her reasons for closing were initially lack of natural light, then we didn't fit the new family profile of the Y, then poor ventilation, then costly renovations that were to be partially paid for by the building owner, and finally shrinking enrollment.

Todays editorial in the Palo Alto Weekly says it all very well.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by traceychen
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 18, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Hello, I haven't been to the Y in many years, but i want to ask why did they have to go to the Unitarian Universalist Church to hold this meeting? Are they that busy that they haven't the space for a meeting like that? That's the same church i emailed begging for a few weeks/months back...they never even bothered to reply....


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lay 'em Off
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 18, 2014 at 5:05 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2014 at 6:14 pm

The information, or rather claim, Elizabeth Jordan provided vis-a-vis the notion that PMY is losing money, is impossible to verify, because she hasn't provided, and apparently has no intention of providing, any financial data to back it up. It's no surprise that they banned the media from attending the Wed. meeting, because the media has the resources and means to investigate such a claim.

The lavish salaries of the CVYMCA executive board are paid by the membership fees, monthly dues and fund raising of the rank and file members, including the members of the Page Mill Y fitness center, which for all intent and purposes make them share holders in this non-profit corporation. In essence, the members are the employers of corporate officers. The notion that the executive board has no obligation to provide the share holders with financial information is ludicrous. The behavior of the SVYMCA executive board should put their tax exempt status in serious jeopardy. I believe that a law suit that challenges their tax exempt status and that requires them to provide verifiable financial data should be the next step. A corporation status is a privilege, not a right. That privilege can be taken away.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2014 at 7:37 pm

To maintain its 501C3 nonprofit status, the Y is audited annually. The officers of the Y are its Board -- not its members -- and the Board has legal fiduciary responsibilities (and legal penalties for not meeting them).

Let it go. Join another gym, there are lots of alternatives in Palo Alto. There are also lots of bigger problems in Palo Alto....and certainly beyond the PA borders. Put your passion and time towards one of those.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by I Heart Raquetball
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 18, 2014 at 8:01 pm

If Kathy Riggins salary is indeed over $400,000 then she should surely not be "inept" or inexperienced in any type of administration, non-profit or not.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sally Schwartz
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 18, 2014 at 8:37 pm

I wanted to add that pagemillymcamembers@outlook.com is the ONLY OFFICIAL email account run by a group of leadership made up of members of our Page Mill location. Please do not be confused by other people posting email accounts. Email us at pagemillymcamembers@outlook.com to be a part of the solution, and to get OFFICIAL emails about upcoming meetings of members to discuss our options. Thank you.

Those of you setting up other email accounts and posting about them on here and other forums are only hurting our cause. Please discontinue confusing our members. It only causes confusion, and disorganization.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ken Horowitz
a resident of University South
on Jul 18, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Palo Alto Weekly Editor:
Excellent editorial. Please share it with the YMCA of the United States
at www.ymca.net
This is a message that other YMCAs need to read. The Page Mill Y is not a gym, it is a cause!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 18, 2014 at 10:07 pm

ChrisC is a registered user.

Thank you for the editorial. I think it's telling that the first message about the closure had nothing about declining membership or deficits, but now the headlines (including the local NBC coverage) lead with the excuse of declining membership. I believe that the National YMCA board should commission an investigation into the Y of Silicon Valley Board's decision, and not just about their mishandling of the announcement. I do not know if they have altered figures, but they have slanted them and are using them as justification, when it seems unlikely that the viability of the PM Y was the issue in the decision to close. It is likely that the $$$ spent on this Y are re-allocated to the East Palo Alto Y. June 24 from the executive director, Matt Hitchcock: "After long and careful evaluation of all possible alternatives, our YMCA of Silicon Valley Board of Directors determined that the best way to serve the broader Palo Alto community going forward is by focusing our resources and investments on the Palo Alto Family YMCA and our other nearby Y facilities."
July 16, from COO and Board of Silicon Valley Y: Declining membership, running at a deficit, millions of repairs needed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PageMillTown
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2014 at 11:47 pm

PageMillTown is a registered user.

ChrisC, I agree with you that the National YMCA board should investigate YMCA SV. Do you or someone else have the time to launch that request? It wouldn't hurt to have multiple requests.

YMCA SV should reverse their decision immediately. Saying "sorry" at the Church meeting, but continuing their course of action, ignoring people's queries, and consistently breaking their promises to deliver information is only smearing the general YMCA image and community.

If Y SV continues their effort to drop Page Mill, action needs to be taken asap to secure the next contract for the gym space. Once a new renter has signed for the space, it'll probably turn into some kind of corporate office.

It will also take effort, communication, and organization (if a new Page Mill is to continue) in order to form a gym that will both state and adhere to the "core values" that will facilitate a great community.

Page Mill's "Core Values" are clearly visible at the gym. Unfortunately, the Executives have displayed a pattern of wanton disregard for those values. There should be active follow-up to discourage these types of people from running a non-profit.

Also, if "Boscoli" could contact me, I'd like to have discussions with him / her.

PageMillTown@gmail.com

Thank You


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2014 at 12:37 am

I was recently concerned about another local nonprofit - oversight of nonprofits turns out to be almost nonexistent. It is not true that audits like that are what catch malfeasance, if that is the concern.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sea - Seelam Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 19, 2014 at 12:48 am

They are out of their mind to close Palo Alto YMCA location.
Only a couple of months back they handed some of us free passes to try the gym.

It is a wonderful place for young and old to exercise. It is sort of like a community hall and place to meet and be healthy.

Why can't we find another location in Palo Alto?

I certainly would propose YMCA stay in Palo Alto.

Respectfully


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SJ
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 19, 2014 at 9:06 am

Dear Boscoli, Chris C, Timeless, and PageMillTown,

Please consider emailing pagemillymcamembers@outook.com and viewing the Save the Page Mill YMCA Facebook page. We need your skills in accomplishing many of the suggestions that you have made. We have work groups going writing, emailing, and telephoning. We are acting now.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Karen White
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 19, 2014 at 9:54 am

Here are links to the YMCA of Silicon Valley Annual Reports for 2011 through 2013 (I've noted the page numbers where the financials are presented):

Web Link
See pages 11-12

Web Link
See pages 35-36

Web Link
See pages 13-14

Note that these financials represent the YMCA of Silicon Valley overall. A few highlights:

Facility membership numbers are up substantially over these three years, from 133,996 in FY 2011 to 146,741 in FY ending 2013.
Revenue from membership dollars is up over the same period, from $24,362,772 to $26,844,404.
The number of total donors is up from 12,359 to 14,400!

Bottom line: There's nothing in these highlights or any of the data to suggest that ANY of the Y branches are creating a financial lag for the organization, much less needing to be closed. On the other hand, the opportunity costs of an ill-advised closure of Page Mill may be quite substantial.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by SJ
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 19, 2014 at 10:17 am

Karen White,

Please consider emailing pagemillymcamembers@outook.com and viewing the Save the Page Mill YMCA Facebook page. We need your skills in accomplishing many of the suggestions that you have made. We have work groups going writing, emailing, and telephoning. We are acting now.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Typical
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 19, 2014 at 10:48 am

Somehow inconvience has become an injustice. In reality these protesters are promoting the de jure segregation this area is known for.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2014 at 10:57 am

Karen White
As you note, all of the data you reference are aggregate totals for ALL of the region's Y facilities and do not illustrate the status of Page Mill. Page Mill is/has been in a deficit situation.

Are you suggesting that the other Y's -- many of which are in areas where incomes are lower than in Palo Alto -- should continue to subsidize the Page Mill facility, which has been losing money for several years?

Why do the Page Mill members feel so entitled?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2014 at 12:01 pm

How do you know Page Mill is/has been in a deficit situation? You just keep repeating the SV board company line without having any data to back it up. It's the PM Y that has been subsidizing other facilities for years. There are so many members who exercise only at PM, but have signed up in other facilities, while their dues and contributions go to those other facilities. Based on the board's shifting reasoning for the closure, it took them 2 weeks to close ranks on the "deficit" one, and their reluctance to provide transparent financial data to back up their claim, why in the world would you believe them? [Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2014 at 1:44 pm

There seem to be a lot of conspiracy theories around, despite the Y's efforts to calm the waters and explain the Board's (a citizen Board) decision to close Page Mill.

The topic goes on and on and gets very emotional. Now, a small vocal group seems to be making unsubstantiated (and rather naive) charges of fraud and wrong doing against the Y leadership -- despite the fact that the Y's citizen Board monitors every financial decision, is audited every year, and must manage competing needs for service.

The Board has tried to tell you that the Y's other facilities in the region (where needs are high, BUT incomes are lower) have actually been subsidizing the money-losing Page Mill location for several years. Some folks just refuse to accept the facts.

Thankfully, the Palo Alto community is blessed with multiple Y locations, AS WELL AS NUMEROUS PRIVATE GYMS. Other communities (including mine) don't have these alternatives.

Finally, a reminder that this thread is for OPEN discussion. That means alternative views and interpretations are ok to voice and hear. Fundamental in a democracy. Sorry...but I'll comment whenever I have a comment to make and am not feeling intimidated at all.

What is my interest as an outsider? I spent several years as a manager of non-profits, and know how difficult it is to keep non-profits. Agencies cannot operate facilities at a loss, and must always re-evaluate needs and priorities and the mission of the organization.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2014 at 1:57 pm

It all comes down to the definition of a Page Mill member.

Those that use the Page Mill gym on a regular basis are not necessarily those that are called Page Mill members.

I suspect that those who joined at another gym and now use Page Mill solely didn't realize that they were not considered PM members.

It would be very interesting to know how many people use the gym on a daily or weekly basis compared to the numbers of "members". I suspect that it may be that they have more users than members. If the number of users could be ascertained I suspect the numbers would not be in decline and they have more "users" than "members".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Again, you keep aping the "money losing Page Mill" claim, when you have absolutely not data to back it up. You are entitled to your own opinions, not to your own facts. When you base your opinion on a fallacy, your conclusions will always be wrong. I myself, who doesn't work out every day, and does it only at specific hours, know personally dozens members of Ross and other gyms who haven't seen the inside of Ross and their nominal gyms for many years, because they've been working out at PM all that time. Their dues and contributions go to Ross, not PM, and they should go to Page Mill, through a simple accounting maneuver. Page Mill isn't losing money, and never has. It has been actually subsidizing other gyms, and its closure is supposed to push enough members to EPA and make it profitable.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Karen White
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 19, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Yes, everyone is entitled to their perspective. But given the fuzzy membership numbers presented, where Bay Area memberships allow members to use any branch convenient to them, there's really no way to conclude that Page Mill is running at a deficit -- and certainly not compelling enough to justify shutting the entire branch down. It seems the only reliable membership numbers are those presented in the Annual Reports, and those numbers are up, with a positive trend-line in numbers and dollars year over year.

Neighbor, stepping back -- and you can appreciate, having managed non-profits before -- much larger governance issues are involved. Top-down authoritarian decision-making may be appropriate (and expected) in for-profit publicly traded corporations. But in the non-profit sector, where goodwill and reputation are both critical to fundraising success, a consensus-based leadership style is called for, where those who may be impacted by a decision are involved along the way.

I've been told that national Y leadership in Chicago are following this evolving situation closely; there will be larger financial and and non-financial impacts from what happens at Page Mill. For example, will a senior who's had their Y community destroyed -- in what seems to be a premature and unilateral decision -- be inclined to volunteer? contribute? make a legacy gift to the Y in their estate? These are the kinds of big-picture factors that one would think the Association board might take into account moving forward.

If indeed there was such a decline in PM membership that corrective action was warranted, a variety of marketing or other efforts could have been explored and a consensus reached on how to move forward. And, of course, this exploration can be undertaken even now, and without closing the branch.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 19, 2014 at 3:58 pm

A suggestion to the Page Mill Y members, pick a time and ALL show up at Ross road. Or pick a couple consistent times. The Ross Road members deserve to see how this closure will impact them. If hundreds of PM members arrive at the door and park in the neighborhood (as a former Ross Y member, I know on site parking is limited). You get the idea.

And perhaps the PM Y members who recently donated should ask for their donations back.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Karen White
As pointed out earlier -- the Y is GOVERNED BY A CITIZEN BOARD. (Regular folks). Those citizens hire/fire the Director, make policy, and approve/disapprove of management proposals. The citizen board runs the place and have legal liability for any financial mismanagement.

What you are suggesting is a "Co-Op" of the membership. Co-ops have a different set of rules. But one is that all members of the co-op share fiscal responsibilities.

Why don't the members who are upset consider forming a legal co-op? You can buy the equipment, hire some managers, make the facility improvements, and negotiate a new lease. (The building owner seems to want a 10-yr. lease). It may be a hassle, but the gym would be under the members' direction.

Or, you can keep you membership and use another Y facility --- or join another gym altogether.

I appreciate that you have made strong friends at this facility, but it looks like it's shutting down.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bunny Wunny
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Bunny Wunny is a registered user.

Charity Navigator information about YMCA of Silicon Valley
Web Link

YMCA of Silicon Valley is a non-profit, calls its users "members", requires not only monthly payments for services but also asks for donations from these "members" AND asks them to be volunteers (and gets lots of both). Expectations have been set with the "members" that they are more than just "customers".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ymember18
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 19, 2014 at 7:39 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by PageMillTown
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2014 at 8:42 pm

PageMillTown is a registered user.

Hi Sally Schwartz, Some of us got together today specifically to talk about our gym. I thought I ran across a potential meeting for July 22 - was that something you organized? Please - if there are any meetings - I'd like to attend if I can. I was in a meeting and forgot where I saw the meeting reference.

I am losing hope ymca sv will reverse its closure decision. Is there anyone out there with the funding available to keep Page Mill open for at least 1 - 12+ more months? We will prove Page Mill is profitable and more importantly, we can continue "New Page Mill" under the values that will facilitate an ongoing, caring, and thriving community.

By the way Sally, I am hearing that you're getting back to everyone. Thanks for your efforts!!

PageMillTown@gmail.com


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ymember18
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 19, 2014 at 8:49 pm

"We certainly could stay at the facility," Elizabeth Jordan COO SCVY June 24, 2014.


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Posted by PageMillTown
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2014 at 8:54 pm

PageMillTown is a registered user.

Ymember18, Thanks for taking the time and diligence to track the Executives' comments. If Jordan said that, can she confirm that by email? Could you please email and ask her?
Imagine how great that would be if you got an email back saying they are going to reverse their decision - or keep PM open temporarily past October.
I heard Jordan is starting to email people back. I hope others are experiencing the same improvement in responsiveness.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ymember18
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 19, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Are you kidding me? Jordan is quoted on this very website at the bottom of this article:
Web Link
Like any good politician she is not going to admit what she stated after contradicting herself. Typical responses to this type of blunder is "Oh, I misspoke."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Ms Jordan's entire statement:
""We certainly could stay at the facility, but we're choosing to do something a little different because we feel as a not-for-profit, our (goal) is to be constantly looking for ways we can serve more and better in any community. That's really our objective."
Web Link
BTW, pagemill town, the quotation is from the weekly story, so not much diligence needed to track it down.

Cherry picking parts of sentences in order to distort what the person was saying is counter productive.
The Y has the right to close the PM facility. End of story


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ymember18
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 19, 2014 at 9:14 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2014 at 9:27 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ymember18
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 19, 2014 at 9:32 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PageMillTown
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2014 at 9:44 pm

PageMillTown is a registered user.

Hi Rupert and YM18, thanks for both of your comments and information. I feel the more I read, the better understanding I have. Rupert basically says ymcasv will drop PM and that's the "end of story." I hope it's really just the end of a chapter, and we can make something magical happen.
If funding can be arranged, it would be ideal to have PM continue as a gym and community center. If not, I hope everyone can try to stay in touch online at least.
I wonder if there have been people considering to donate $4 Million to keep PM open, but are hesitant because of the rumors or perception that ymcasv collects donations based on misleading information. Or, would ymcasv executives be willing to promise a $4 million donor that if they make such a donation, it would go completely to PM to keep it running.

By the way, the meeting for the 22nd wasn't related to Sally. It was another member organizing that.

Everyone have a nice night :)


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2014 at 9:46 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Ymember18
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 19, 2014 at 9:50 pm

[Post removed.]





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Posted by Sea Seelam Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 19, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Based on the comment by Ms.Jordan:

Please reverse your decision and stay put in the current location for another year.

Please collaborate with Palo Alto and neighbors on what is going well and not going well. Give members plenty of time if you want to relocate or move to another city.

In summary, stay put in Palo Alto for another year and reassess your future move plans.

Respecfully


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2014 at 9:58 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Ymember18
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 19, 2014 at 10:01 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Sally Schwartz
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 19, 2014 at 10:07 pm

There is someone using the email address savingthepagemillymcataskforce@gmail.com They have now taken the OFFICIAL members plan and are presenting it as their own. If you are getting emails from this address please ignore and ask to be taken off the email list. They are confusing members, and distracting from our goals. Thank you.

To get real information about what is happening please email pagemillymcamembers@outlook.com ALL OTHER EMAILS ARE SCAMS.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Your gym is closing. Management was totally within their rights and responsibilities to close it. Join another gym. There are lots of alternatives close-by.

Everyone realizes that the closing of this facility came as a shock to some members -- but the emotions, careless charges, and distorted quotations are so out of proportion. It makes the Palo Alto community look terrible. I can only think what positive community outcomes might come about if you put some of that energy towards a larger UNSELFISH purpose?


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Posted by Sea-Seelam Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 20, 2014 at 12:06 pm

spelling correction

In summary, PLEASE stay put in Palo Alto for another year and reassess your future move plans.

Respectfully


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Posted by SJ
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 20, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Respectfully Neighbor and all others who want us to give up and go away,

You are very skillful in your reasoning that the members of the PM YMCA should abandon any hope of keeping Page Mill YMCA open. These techniques probably served you well when you ran a non-profit. Although your state that you have no vested interest in the closing, you persist in trying to dissuade members from continuing the cause.

You tell us to give up and that we can't prevail.
You want us to think that our cause is not important.
You try to belittle us stating that we are acting entitled when we want to keep our special gym open.
You tell us our cause is not important compared the world's problems to further discourage us.
You state have no right to feel as strongly as we do because the YMCASV did not consult with us before they announced their intent to close PM.
You keep say why bother, nothing will work out, you'll never be able to get what you want, there's no use in trying because we are too old, too entitled or too insignificant to warrant saving.
You are trying to persuade alienated members that they have been cut loose and are no longer deemed worthy of support.
You are trying to make members feel as if they are alone in their fight and there is no one else interested.
You hope that members become uninspired because their importance to YMCASV has been undervalued.
Members do control the destiny of the Y unless you can make them believe they are powerless.
Members feel as if they being oppressed and subjugated by YMCASV's attempts to bring them under complete control by trivializing their beliefs in the YMCA's core values.

Since Wednesday's poorly executed meeting, the members are even more energized and they will not be silenced until they are allowed open discussions with the Board of Directors.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 20, 2014 at 1:07 pm

[Portion removed.]

Tragically, our country has become a corporate state, perhaps our country is already a corporation, or like someone once said:'The United State is not a country, it's a business' run by and for the corporations. Corporations wield absolute power over both the government and ordinary people. "They have a right to do whatever they want" is how their actions are excused and explained. Be it the executive board of a non-profit corporation whose salaries are paid by the members dues of the fitness center they are closing, replacing American jobs with third world slave labor, price fixing, polluting, etc. And there will always be those who defend them, for whatever reason.


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2014 at 1:31 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jul 20, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Equating non-profit organizations with the corporate world is simply not valid and borders on irrational. Corporate organizations exist to make a profit, non-profits by definition cannot legally make a profit and they cannot incur sustained losses for either.

And, as repeatedly pointed out. citizen boards for non-profits have legal responsibilities for the financial management and business decisions of their organization.

Members of the Y are the the agency's CLIENTS, not its Board.

BTW -- I worked for the United Way, not the Y or any individual agency. My job was to review member agency budgets to ensure that they followed the law and didn't behave like for-profit corporations and thus qualified for UW support.

I have not tried to belittle anyone involved in the Page Mill Y cause, and it doesn't matter to me if others don't afford me that same courtesy.

I have repeatedly stated that I recognize that it is sad that you will lose the camaraderie you obviously feel. BUT, your access to gyms in Palo Alto is not eliminated by the closing of this location. There are other Ys in Palo Alto and plenty of other comparable gyms available to you.

Finally, in this world -- which so fraught with terrible needs -- we should be grateful that we, at least, have alternatives and lead very comfortable lives.


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Posted by Ymember18
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 20, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Neighbor,

The "Y" is run more like a business than a non-profit.
See Link: Web Link

Yet using your rational as it being a non-profit or not-for-profit the clients, members, actually have a much greater say in the operation than if it were stricly a for-profit business.

[Portion removed.]

If the closing is not going to affect you then what does it matter to you what all of us are doing trying to keep it open?

Do you want the "Y" to close? If so then please state why?



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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2014 at 4:44 pm

[Portion removed.]

"If the closing is not going to affect you then what does it matter to you what all of us are doing trying to keep it open?"
Have we spoken? How do you know if the closing will affect me or not?
I have said many times that a coop can be formed to lease the space and keep it as a gym. I am n favor of,it staying open if people want to, but the Y has the right to close it.

Based on your link, you support the taxation of the PM Y, if it should remain open. Is that correct.
Also note that your liNk tells,you not to,use the term " unfair".


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Posted by Ymember18
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 20, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Rupert of henzau,

Well then I don't see what all of your fuss is about. Stop complaining about us trying to save the "Y," you'll have greater peace that way.

No I am not for taxing the "Y" I just wanted to point out a certain perspective to "neighbor" for the "Y" is not run like a pure non-profit, that's all.


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2014 at 5:20 pm

"Well then I don't see what all of your fuss is about. Stop complaining about us trying to save the "Y," you'll have greater peace that way. "
I am entitled to express my opinion, which I am doing. I am not sure why you are so upset that I and others are voicing an opiNion that is in disagreement with yours.
All I am saying is that the Y has the right to not renew the lease and there is nothing stopping the facility from remaining a gym, except not under the auspices of the YMCA.


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Posted by jan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 20, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Why are biscoli and ymember18 so against anyone disagreeing with them. I am a long time member if the y at page mill. I am unhappy about the closing but I think a heathy dialogue, with all sides represented is good.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 20, 2014 at 5:32 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by PageMillTown
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 20, 2014 at 6:07 pm

PageMillTown is a registered user.

I like Sea Seelam Reddy's comment to keep PM open another year. That will give enough time to show PM is and has been profitable. It will also give the members and community a chance to prepare so PM is never closed again.

If anyone out there has $100,000 or more to give towards keeping PM open, please let me know. I will NOT touch the money. We can direct you to the suppliers (of getting gym equipment, instructors, landlord, etc) so that PM can try to stay open another 1 - 2 months. We just need a little time to show what PM is capable of so other investors can join in.

At this time, every day counts. I have already started to meet with people to follow leads about keeping PM open.

On Oct 1, there will be a variety of options. We'll simply take the best one available. But at worst, there will at least be facebook pages or other websites that members can stay in touch on. This option is pathetic, though, because a lot of the frequent members and community at PM do not access that form of socialization and technology.

The closure has affected me deeply. I even dreamt about posting here last night. I dreamt that I had made chocolate shavings to put on my friend's chocolate cake, because he loves chocolate. Then, after I put the shavings on, I simultaneously discovered it was soup and that it belonged to a lady. She exclaimed, "What the h*** is this?" (I had ruined her soup).

I felt embarrassed and I thought maybe the dream meant that not everyone wants PM to stay open.

But I'm awake now. I still want to keep PM open, and I hope the people can have it to return to if they're still willing to come back together there.


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Posted by PageMillTown
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 20, 2014 at 10:04 pm

PageMillTown is a registered user.

The Page Mill closure affected me deeply. I realize I just said this, but I wanted to describe it more before talking about an idea I have.

Initially, I was in shock. I have been a member about 15 years. Page Mill has something magical and difficult to articulate. People that have been members 15 days already fall in love with it.

At first, I thought ymcasv would look over its data again; consider the negative PR nightmare the closure announcement caused; be moved by the strength and passion of the community; consider apologizing for a mistake; consider keeping Page Mill open to avoid further investigation to find out what the true story is. This direction of thought or strategy appears not to be working.

The next emotional experience for me was seeing the anger, frustration, and sadness felt by the community. It wasn't the frustration itself, it was the realization of the "family" that was created at the gym. I believe that behind anger or sadness, there is fundamentally love. People were behaving as if an innocent family member was getting sentenced to death.

Those days were the hardest for me. I was distracted at work. I was losing sleep over the closure. I felt guilty for not getting more of my friends to join. I felt inadequate because I've been too lazy and that must be why I don't have a million dollars to keep the gym open. I thought of all the people that were sad about Page Mill closing. I literally wanted to vomit. This feeling went on for a while.

I've also met with people that have the financial backing to keep Page Mill open. But they have millions (or more) dollars because they are very good at business. They are geniuses at knowing what will make money and what won't. This gave me some hope. I thought it was better than having the gym close completely. But I was still very bothered by the idea of a Page Mill gym that operated like 24 hour fitness or equinox. I wanted to keep the aspect of community service, compassion, and "family" in the new gym.

Now, I'm thinking in the direction of just taking over the lease myself. This is very risky (and still not necessarily possible).

So if I go in this direction, I'd like to ask for the help of experience and opinions from the members.

I will be talking to an accountant in the next 2 - 4 days. But more opinions are better.

Here's one question:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of operating "new Page Mill" as a non-profit vs a business?

Part of my consideration from moving away from a non-profit is that ymcasv is a non-profit, and I feel the way they treated us was very insulting. They not only closed the gym, they also did it in a manner that was... I hate to say this, but I felt it was done illegally, unethically, and dishonestly.

Is there a way to form a new Page Mill that can have this combination:
The best of the non-profit world, the best of what ymcasv did great, as well as the advantages of operating it as a business?

Also, I'm not trying to form any "group" or "camp" at this point. I'm just asking questions. Some people I know and some I don't know have been very vocal and active. And if they can secure a multi-million dollar loan or donation, and they can keep Page Mill open to make everyone happy - I am happy too. It doesn't matter who (or which "camp") does it - just as long as it's accomplished.

If I'm able to secure the lease, I have a very short time to work with everyone to keep the gym open long term, providing a positive service to the community. And if the gym isn't kept open, then it's likely I could be sued, have creditors after me, and have my personal credit more or less permanently ruined.

Please give me information that can help us build an amazing community centered gym. Realistically, there will be some barrier or snag I won't be able to overcome. This barrier could come tomorrow, or next month... but I feel this has never been about a "gym." Or a "basement."

This aroused so much passion in the community because Page Mill was a place that changed people's lives. And gave us tremendous joy and improvement.


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Posted by PageMillTown
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2014 at 8:01 pm

PageMillTown is a registered user.

A friend and member showed me a note she copied from a flyer at the gym:
Save Page Mill Meeting
Thursday July 24 2014
5:30 - 7:30 pm
Cubberley Community Center, Room H-1
4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

My friend that saw this flyer said staff is taking these flyers down.

Please put up more flyers, so everyone can see it. Please tell the reporters to publish this info so people can hear about it. Email this meeting to as many people as possible!


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Posted by crooner
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 24, 2014 at 8:42 pm

crooner is a registered user.

Yes, yours is an excellent editorial.

Here is some additional info to the major points you made:

o Communication. As you say: The Silicon Valley YMCA board should have involved Page Mill Y members long ago. But, you say it is because "Nonprofits are often particularly inept at communicating bad news." Well, yes, but hell, they didn't even bring a microphone to the meeting at the Unitarian Church - a perfect symbol that shouts: "We do not want to communicate." Why? Because they have been planning the Page Mill Y's demise for years and did not want anybody coming in and mucking up their plans. That is obvious for the following reasons:

o Finances. Silicon Valley YMCA board said that the Page Mill Y has been going into the red past couple of years. Then why has the Silicon Valley YMCA not pegged dues to increasing inflation for the past 10 years? That would cover any shortfall many times over. And why are they not considering raising the dues now by $10 a month for its membership, which alone would bring in about half a million a year? And why not cut expenses at the Y? There are huge areas for fixes in maintenance, supplies, facilities.

o Mission: As you point out, the Silicon Valley YMCA says it does not consider the Page Mill Y in full accordance with its mission statement to serve families: Well, it funds youth camps. It gives classes (free) for patients with Parkinson's and cancer and other diseases to people who, I believe, are parents of the communities' children. It offers family discount memberships. It helps family members physically enable their senior parents to live long, healthy lives as part of the community.

o Membership. As you rightly point out, many users of the Page Mill Y do not designate Page Mill as their "home" branch, though they use it all the time and have membership at another Y. So, where was the data to show how much these "other" members are really contributing to the Page Mill Y?

Yes, a fine editorial that needs repertorial followup.


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Posted by PageMillTown
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2014 at 10:29 pm

PageMillTown is a registered user.

Crooner, thank you for your insightful comment.

I also wish to thank the organizers of tonight's meeting. It was very well attended and the hall that was arranged was the perfect size. Great projector and screen setup. It was obvious there was a lot of attention to detail. I feel relieved to see so much support towards keeping the Page Mill Community vibrant.

Thanks to everyone that took time from their busy lives and schedules to attend. I felt I learned so much and got a much clearer picture of how we will strategize towards a desired future.

I will pray the board does make an announcement tomorrow. And they will finally make a first genuine and positive step in the appropriate direction of keeping Page Mill open.

We see too often tragedies from human weakness.

But I will remember today forever as evidence that individuals can cooperate, organize, and effectively improve the resources of a community. Also, keeping open a fun, friendly, and challenging place where the next generation can also gather their positive, significant memories.

At the church meeting, a woman voiced her belief that in our entire country, there is no other gym like Page Mill. That's how I've come to feel as well.

When the board reverses their decision; or when members manage to continue our "Camelot," Page Mill will manage to surprise with its colorful history.

Thank You


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Posted by PageMillTown
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 25, 2014 at 5:18 am

PageMillTown is a registered user.

[Post removed due to copyright infringement.]


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Posted by KEN HOROWITZ
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 25, 2014 at 9:43 am

KEN HOROWITZ is a registered user.

Please read the article in today's(Friday)Daily News by Jason Green to learn more about the members grassroots' efforts to prevent the closure of the Page Mill YMCA. Also come to the August 4 Palo Alto City Council Meeting at 7:00 pm and let the Council know about why keeping this Y open is important to the City.


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Posted by fewiley
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 25, 2014 at 11:46 am

fewiley is a registered user.

Since this is one of the few (only?) exercise facilities in Palo Alto that serves a more adult membership, it's unfortunate that the facility is being closed so abruptly and without giving the members a chance to either understand or help correct problems. I'm sure the Y sees its future with younger families and children, but it's a shame that the many current senior members of this Y (many have lived and worked in Palo Alto for decades, and helped build this community) can't have a 'senior-friendly' facility....


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Posted by PageMillTown
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 25, 2014 at 1:11 pm

PageMillTown is a registered user.

Ken & Fewiley, thanks for your comments.
I'm not sure where the rumor came from that the board might announce good news about PM today. I don't know how or where they would announce it. But if any of you hear anything, please let me know. I have classes all afternoon and night, but I will respond if any of you contact me. Have a great day.


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Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Paly Alum is a registered user.

Gives people a chance to try out the JCC. The place is immaculate and there are no screaming kids running around, yet the members are friendly and it's not like Equinox where everyone's into themselves. JCC gives free 3-day trial passes. Unless you have an issue with its religion (and there are plenty of non-Jews), there is no reason to not try it because it's amazing.


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Posted by BBBKKK
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jul 27, 2014 at 1:05 pm

BBBKKK is a registered user.

I am appalled at the Silicon Valley YMCA Board's decision to close Page Mill YMCA and outraged at the way they have gone about it -

1. The SV Board sent a 'letter bomb' on 6/24 saying that they were closing the Page Mill Y. There was no prior discussion of problems and no consultation with members, staff, or even most of the Board of Managers of the Page Mill Y. Over the next weeks, we were given all sorts of specious reasons why the Y had to close.

2. Three weeks after the letter (7/16), the Board held an informational meeting (forced by an angry membership) in which they finally divulged the 'real reasons' why they were closing the Y - a 10% decline in enrollment over the past years, an operating shortfall of ~ $200,000, and anticipated major expenses for deferred maintenance and improvements to the facility. Very contentious meeting - press was not allowed in - Power Points were extremely hard to read, no mic at the beginning, lack of underlying data, purpose was clearly to convince us why they were right rather than to listen to members.

3. Many Page Mill members gave substantial amounts of money to the spring giving campaign - which ended shortly before closure was announced. Prior to and during the campaign there was no mention that the Y was in "financial trouble" and that closure was being considered. The Page Mill Y has been profitable historically and there was no reason to think things had changed. Speaking for myself - and probably for many others - I would not have given the amount I did if I had known closure was being considered. And, if I had known we had "financial problems", I would have designated my donation to be used by the Page Mill Y, rather than another Y in our group. Not disclosing this critical information while asking for money is unconscionable at best and highly unethical at worst. In addition, if the Page Mill Y was having "financier problems", why did most of our contributions go to support the EPA Y and the Parkinson's, Cancer-Survivor, and other programs. It should have gone to the Page Mill Y.

4. "Financial Problems" are in quotations as I think the list of "needed improvements" is hugely overblown. The estimates the Board has given range from $1.5MM to $3.5MM (> $200/ sq. ft.!). [An example of the many different and conflicting explanations and numbers they have given us - can't possibly trust anything they say anymore.) Examples: 1) lack of ventilation in the spinning room - have never heard anyone complain until one of the BD members did during the 7/16 meeting; 2) need new lockers - they are relatively new, look good and work well, good for another 5-10 years; 3) leaks in men's locker room - understand they were fixed last winter, should be the landlord's responsibility as the water is coming from planting beds over our ceiling; 4) no windows - no, there never have been any… If you took a pole of the members, the list of deferred maintenance/ improvements would be MUCH shorter and MUCH less expensive...


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Posted by BBBKKK
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jul 27, 2014 at 1:37 pm

BBBKKK is a registered user.

Why the SV YMCA Board decision is a disaster and why they should help us find a solution (cont.) -

5. I have a single membership. My dues were $65 per month for years, and then fell to $56 per month when I reached a certain 'pivotal birthday' in 2005. They have remained at $56 since. The Y may be a non-profit, but it's still running a business. It's egregious mismanagement not to raise dues to at least keep up with inflation. If that had been done, I suspect we would not have any "financial problems". I've heard lots of members say they would be willing to pay more. When that was suggested at the 7/16 meeting, Elizabeth Jordan, COO, said that if dues were raised, members would leave. The Page Mill Y has~ 3,000 members. How many members (and their donations) will leave the Y system with the closure of Page Mill???

6. The SV Board hired a consultant to see how best to make the Page Mill market-competitive. The Board now seems totally bought into the consultant's advice without getting input from any members or staff. I can see that an outside consultant might think we need major deferred maintenance and upgrades (depending on who he talked with) to be competitive with Equinox or the new JCC. But the Page Mill Y has many other positives that an outsider may not see or may discount. Not everything that is valuable is based on physical facilities. If we become "just like Equinox", where is the competitive advantage? We appeal to a totally different demographic and should be marketed as such, not s "like Equinox". Equinox is much more expensive than the Y, but if it were exactly the same price, I would choose the Y.

7. Many members who use the Page Mill Y have "Bay Area" memberships. Many started out at another Y and have migrated over the years to using the Page Mill Y. However, if they didn't change their "home Y" designation, then their membership and dues are credited to that Y, not to Page Mill. It's clear by the various posts that many members didn't understand that where they registered for their "home Y" makes an important difference in internal accounting. Now that they know the problem, members have tried to change their "home Y" to the Y they actually use most of the time, but the SV Board, now, won't allow that. They also won't allow new memberships. According to the information given to us on 7/16, Page Mill membership has declined ~ 10% (i.e., by ~ 150 "member units") over the past 5 years. (It has actually increased in the past year.) If people were allowed to change their "home Y" to the Y they use the most, I expect we would be at least half way there.

8. When members suggested a capital campaign for improvements, Elizabeth Jordan, SV YMCA's COO, basically responded (paraphrasing) that we're a non-profit - we don't do capital campaigns for facilities, we do them to help people that need help (financial assistance, summer camps, Alzheimer program, etc.). Sorry - but there was a huge capital campaign (strongly supported by the Page Mill Y) to build the EPA Y and there was another large capital campaign to expand the Ross Road Y from 19,000 to 25,000 sq. ft. We certainly could do one now to make whatever improvements are actually needed for the Page Mill Y.

9. The SV Board is suggesting that all Page Mill members transfer to the Ross Road, El Camino, EPA, or Sequoia YMCAs or "find another home closer to where they live". In many of the posts, Ross Road members are already complaining about lack of parking, lines for exercise machines and showers, no room in the pool, etc. How would Ross Road members feel if even half of us (~ 1,500 people) transferred there? Could Ross Road accommodate us without neighbor complaints, over-crowding, etc.? The Y was greatly expanded under a Conditional use permit (see prior excellent research by Karen White) and wouldn't seem to be able to accommodate many more members without violating its CUP. When asked, Elizabeth Jordan said the Y would absolutely not be i violation of any conditions. Two explanations: 1) it sounded as though she was unfamiliar with/ didn't know anything about the 1991 CUP, and/or 2) she doesn't care whether or not we transfer to another Y location or to a non-Y location.


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Posted by BBBKKK
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jul 27, 2014 at 1:53 pm

BBBKKK is a registered user.

Why the SV YMCA Board decision is a disaster and why they should help us find a solution (cont.) -

So, the SV Board has given us < 90 days to find a solution… (In watching how everything has been done, it's clear the Board didn't/ doesn't want any solution except closure.)

Elizabeth stated that she's never seen a YMCA closed before. Page Mill is one that definitely shouldn't be closed and it doesn't have to be. We CAN find a solution.

Page Mill Y members are very smart, highly skilled, extremely experienced, and very motivated to make the Y successful! Why not allow the members, staff, and Board of Managers to help create solutions???

We deserve a chance to make the financials work. We are asking the SV Board to ask the landlord to extend the building lease for a year to give us time to get our financial house in order. So far, the SV Board has been unwilling to commit to asking the landlord, although they confirm the landlord has always been very wiling to work with the Y.

If there are problems, we need to fix them. We are not asking for a permanent subsidy. We will pay our own way. We are asking for the chance to put together solutions.

Don't stonewall - help us - work with us.


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Posted by BBBKKK
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jul 27, 2014 at 2:06 pm

BBBKKK is a registered user.

To Paly Alum -

JCC is a terrific resource and I agree with you that people should investigate it.

However, for those living west of Foothill Exp. (or, west of #280), the JCC is too far to go. I also understand that for those living west of Alma, it's very hard to get to the JCC during certain hours because of very heavy business traffic (going to #101) and school traffic. Page Mill is also unique in that the many people who work at Page Mill Square or in the immediate area can easily drop in for an hour just before, just after, or during their work day - something not possible at the other Ys and the JCC because of location. Possible at Equinox, but much more time-consuming... d


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Posted by BBBKKK
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jul 27, 2014 at 2:24 pm

BBBKKK is a registered user.

Please read Scott Herhold's column ("YMCA May Lose Prized Community") in today's (Sunday 7/27) San Jose Mercury News. It's on the front page of the Local section. A very good summary of our Save the PMY meeting on 7/24. I whole-heartedly agree with his conclusions.

Also come to the August 4 Palo Alto City Council Meeting at 7:00 pm and let the Council know about why keeping this Y open is important to the City.


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Posted by PageMillTown
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 27, 2014 at 3:58 pm

PageMillTown is a registered user.

BBBKKK, I didn't even know about this article. Thank you. We will go read that now.


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