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Editorial: Damage control at the Y
Original post made
on Jul 18, 2014
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.
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posted Friday, July 18, 2014, 12:00 AM
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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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