The Page Mill Road YMCA in Palo Alto is closing this fall when its 10-year lease is up, Chief Operations Officer Elizabeth Jordan of the YMCA of Silicon Valley said Tuesday.
Oct. 1 will be the last day for members to use the gym, take group exercise classes and patronize community programs at the 755 Page Mill Road facility, which has leased a basement in the Palo Alto Square complex -- at El Camino Real and Page Mill -- since 1979.
Jordan told the Weekly Tuesday that the decision to close was made in part due to the facility's physical constraints; the underground building cannot be built out, up or down in order to expand or allow for natural light, something members have asked for, she said.
"After some careful consideration, we decided it would be best to put our resources into our other facilities and programming in Palo Alto that would better serve the community," Jordan said.
Starting July 1 and until Oct. 1, members of the Page Mill outpost will have free access to all of the YMCA's 30 Bay Area locations in addition to their current membership, Jordan said. After Page Mill closes, from Oct. 2 through Dec. 31, members can continue to patronize any Bay Area YMCA for free. In January, the organization will ask members to select a "home branch" they would like to join and can do so without paying the standard joining fee.
Jordan estimated the Page Mill branch serves about 3,000 people.
It employs five people full time and about 40 part time, though 30 of the part-timers only work about two to three hours per week teaching one or two exercise classes, she said.
Eric Lederhaus, an orthopedic physical therapist who has worked a couple nights a week at the Page Mill YMCA for about a year, said the announcement was "a little bit" of a shock for staff. But the decision was made in order to benefit the community, he added.
Lederhaus and the other employees will be relocated to other YMCA facilities in similar positions, if they'd like, Jordan said.
"We're already speaking with each (employee) to find out their interest, their geographical preference and consider other close opportunities if they wish to try something new, or if they wish to stay in same positions they'll be relocated to one of our other branches," Jordan said.
When Lederhaus was asked if he would transfer to another YMCA to continue as a physical therapist, he said he might but that he "has other options, too."
A man leaving the Y on Tuesday afternoon who did not want to give his name said of the closure, "I just think it's unfortunate."
He's been a member for seven or eight years, he said.
Jordan said the closure has nothing to do with rising rents.
"In fact, our landlord has been wonderful to the YMCA since the inception of the Page Mill branch in 1979," she said. "He has not only been a supporter of the Y but he also has largely looked for other ways he could facilitate the YMCA serving the community. In many ways, it's going to be very sad to part ways with him in this particular relationship."
Jordan also said Page Mill's closure will have the effect of expanding offerings at nearby locations, such as the El Camino YMCA in Mountain View, which starting Sept. 1 will open at 4:30 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. The Page Mill location is currently open 5 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.
Other programs offered at the Page Mill YMCA, such as diabetes prevention and an adult cancer-survivor program, will be transitioned to the Palo Alto Family YMCA on Ross Road and other branches, Jordan said.
"I think it's just really important that people know we are making this decision based on our ability to do more for the community," Jordan said. "It's a strategic move that was prompted by the ability to make a change effective the end of our lease.
"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."