YMCA pool closes

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Board optimistic it's only a temporary measure

AMHERST - Jason Blanch woke up Monday morning looking for something to do with his children.

Usually, the family visits the pool at the Cumberland YMCA every Monday afternoon, but with the pool's temporary closure he had to make alternate arrangements.

"Fortunately, with it being March Break, there was a puppet show at the library," Blanch said. "Not sure what we're going to do on Friday or next Monday."

As scheduled, the pool at the YMCA was closed to users and will remain closed until a partnership agreement is reached between the board of directors and the Town of Amherst and Municipality of Cumberland.

Blanch, whose Facebook group now stands at over 300, remains optimistic, if not hopeful, that a plan will be put in place and the pool reopened in a matter or weeks as opposed to months.

"I think the community has showed it wants and needs a pool," Blanch said. "There were over 200 at last week's meeting and there are more than 300 in the (Facebook) group. I just have this feeling that things are going to work themselves out."

YMCA managing director Trina Clarke shares Blanch's optimism. She said the board of directors knew it was making a tough decision when it originally decided to close the pool. Having to follow through was tough.

"Of course we never wanted to see the day come, but we made the decision with the understanding that we had to be fiscally responsible," Clarke said. "No one wanted to see it close, but it's something we had to do to maintain our other services."

Clarke said the board is awaiting word from the town on its plans and is willing to hold additional meetings with council and staff to work out any details. At the same time, she again applauded the county for its funding commitment, but cautioned it remains contingent on funding from the town and other factors.

"It seems that everyone is supportive of a pool in our community, but some things take time," she said.

Amherst town council was scheduled to meet behind closed doors to discuss the matter on Monday, but there has been no information released from that meeting.

Even though Y officials are waiting on pins and needles from news from town hall, Clarke said they remain optimistic that a partnership will be hammered out and that the closure will be a matter of days or weeks, not months.

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: YMCA, Amherst town council

Geographic location: AMHERST

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  • enough
    January 18, 2010 - 11:22

    Business sink or fail on their own merit. The Y has had more second chances than any other business and they still can't make it. Why should it receive further assistance.

    I think it was said in one of these articles that there are approximately 200 members. If Amherst's population is say 9900 that means that only 2.02% of the town belong (3.03 if you take the face book group). If there are another 14000 in the county then only 0.84 % of the county are members (1.3% with the facebook group). So with numbers like this why should the other 98-99% of the population support the miniscule number of users. If you want to keep it make it user pay, and if people want to use it they will pay to do it. If it can't run with the revenue receive from users then it should not run.

    Either way I don't think the vast majority who don't use it should pay for the small, small number who do. I agree that the town needs things, but I again think the pro Y camp is greatly overstating the Y's contribution to the town. I also think it is pretty childish that those in the pro Y camp call those with a differing opinion than theirs selfish and negative. It is a differing point of view people. I believe it is well within all are rights to express our opinions without being called names.

  • DJ
    January 18, 2010 - 11:18

    The negativity in this town never ceases to amaze me. I only hope that the negative responses on here do not represent the majority feelings of citizens.

    To all those who are complaining about taxes - your arguments are shortsighted. When we lose facilities like the YMCA we lose a place that makes daily activity affordable for children who couldn't afford to go to a for profit gym. Our children in this province have one of the highest rates of obesity in the country as does our general population. When people are not active they end up in the hospital more. What do you think costs us more as taxpayers - promotion of healthy living with facilities like the YMCA or the costs to run hospitals? You will see all across the country the medical profession is stressing the benefits of an active lifestyle. Health promotion is one way to cut down the costs of delivering health care. So to all those who say they don't use the YMCA or the Stadium and we should save our tax dollars, think again.

    Having said all that, I do agree that any funding that goes to the YMCA should be conditional upon proper management of the facility. I believe the County's donation is conditional and I imagine if the Town contributes funds it will do the same thing.

  • NT
    January 18, 2010 - 11:13

    Enough Already, it is not one pool that attracts people, it is a combination of all the things you mentioned. When we stop supporting these things, we start down a slippery slope of looking for other ways to cut spending. Most of the things you mentioned do not make money and are not intended to. Pools by themselves are never money makers, that's a known fact. The Cumberland Y will never be a for-profit corporation, and I'm not sure I'd ever want it to be. Hotels have pools not to make money, but to attract people.

    All I'm saying is that if you want to live somewhere that does not care about these services, there are plenty of places like that. River Hebert comes to mind. Your taxes will be lower there, all you pay for is roads, lights and sewer. Their school also has ample room I have heard, unlike Amherst's which are bursting at the seams. Oh, and by the way, the reason your taxes would be lower is not because the rate is lower (it isn't), it's because your property value is low, because nobody is moving there.

    Ask yourselves what kind of place do you want to live in.

  • brook
    January 18, 2010 - 11:12

    as a resident of amherst i was wondering why if they needed money for the pool how come on friday nights they didn't charge $5.00 per child and raise the limit up to 100 instead of 50. 50 could have been swimming while another 50 could have been in the gym and even another 50 doing crafts. I think the people that are in charge of finances could have did a better job .yes it was a good thing on friday nights for the kids but what they were paying for 3-4 hours could have beena little more and as a mother of 4 i would have paid more. that is just my opinion .

  • NT
    January 18, 2010 - 11:11

    To the 'close the pool' crowd, ask yourselves what kind of a town do you want to live in? Would you prefer a town that may have slightly lower taxes, but offers no new developments, no initiatives, nobody putting in the effort to provide services, just providing the bare necessities? Because if that's the case, such a town would never attract new people, new industry... Who would want to live there? Closing all those kinds of things indicates a dying, go nowhere town.

    The YMCA is not just about providing a pool for a few. Beyond the great things they do, like the Smile program as only one example, facilities such as this represent the core values of a vibrant, dynamic active town, along with the stadium, the soon-to-be skate park, various green spaces and parks, libraries, basically anything that isn't a road or a streetlight.

    By embracing services like these, new people want to move here, and those that are here will want to remain instead of moving out. The end result is an increased tax base, meaning it didn't cost you anything in the end. Closing all this stuff means a ghost town with no new industries or people, and you are left paying the bill for nothing. Is that really what you want? Supporting the Y means supporting a dynamic vibrant place to live. If YOU don't like it, move to somewhere where nobody cares about their home.

  • big
    January 18, 2010 - 11:11

    For those of you who dont use the y my question is why dont you?? It is there for all. And as far as sponsered memberships almost anyone is able to apply for one. My family has one, and when we get to the point where we can afford it we will be paying full price, The advantages that my children have gotten from there are awesome, not just the ability to work out, use the facilities and keep physically healthy but the advantages of socializing with everyone there, rich ,poor and in between. As far as the SMILE program it has been a blessing to us, having a special needs child,for him to be able to go each week get the exercise he needs and the socialization which is so important to everyone, an important part of that program is the pool, not just usage of a gym, so some of those nice school gyms that were mentioned just wont work as they dont have a pool. The Y itself wont bring new people into town but when people and companies are choosing to relocate some of the things they look for are recreational facilities for their families such as the y.
    I feel that we as a town have lost out on many things so lets not let something like the y go too. Are your children going to want to stay in a go nowhere, do nothing town?? Mine wont

  • close it for good
    January 18, 2010 - 11:11

    enough already - stop begging for my tax dollars - to be spend on a pool that I will never use - or do I know of any of my neigbours using -
    so who is going to use ? just a certain few people ?
    and they want 1.4 million ?
    make it user pays - if they have to pay 10.00 for a swim - that what they pay - but don't raise my taxes to allow others to enjoy it at my expenses

  • askhim
    January 18, 2010 - 11:08

    I am saying rip it down and build a new building, with a new pool, courts, gym, whatever! Something nice and new, stop fixing up old crap and give us something new.

    Take the $1.4 mil and put it towards ANOTHER facility, brand spanking new! They are going to take the $1.4 mil and waste it on the Y fixing it up. Why not just build a whole new building? Hmm?

    Why are people in this town so scared of change?

  • J
    January 18, 2010 - 11:07

    huh change? you speak of change? lets get rid of A and put in its place A!!! that makes absolutely no sense.

    I suggest this, close the stadium and build a giant retirement home because frankly that's all the aging boomers will have because ya know those young folks aren't going to stick around and who will pay for you?

    if the idea here is to reduce the services amherst enjoys to the levels of river hebert or minudie we've got problems folks. frankly the town dropped the ball here in closing dicky pool and the only solution it could think of was to prop up the Y pool for a few years. too bad most of those decision makers are gone they should be brought to task.

    and fuzzy whoever is right we need jobs but surprise surprise everyone else does too. has amherst lost any jobs yet due to the recession?

    so lets build a new facility just like the Y facility! same problem but new building! not my tax dollars no no no not my tax dollars? yes i don't want my tax dollars going to schools because ya know i home school my kids, I want my taxes tailored to my needs. blah blah blah

  • close it for good
    January 18, 2010 - 11:06

    well it's the same old story from the save the y people -
    the y will bring in new businesses - really ? when where ? how many has come in only because of the y? --- none ,and as for the obesity of the children - get a life - when are the parents going to take charge of their owe kids ?
    and of the 300 people who someone claimed signed up on facebook - how many are actually living in this area ? maybe 100-150 - so we are going to spend 1.5 million on 150 people ? and besides facebook is a farces (ONLY PEOPLE WHO DOESN'T HAVE A LIFE GO ON THERE )
    KEITH HUNTER WAS GRANDSTANDING DOES HE HAVE THE WHOLE COUNTY COUNCIL BEHIND HIM - NO WAY talk is cheap people 1.5 million for a few people is not going to happen -

  • enough
    January 18, 2010 - 11:03

    NT. No one is saying that they don't want to live in a progressive town, they are saying the opposite. Ask yourself this. Is if progressive to continually support a money losing operation or one that has proven that it can't run itself. I don't think so.

    You over estimate the power of one pool to bring people to the community. In case you hadn't noticed, the Y hasn't actually been pulling people into the town. If you want people to come to the town it takes multiple things. Rinks, sports facilities, sports programs, cultural programs, museums, good roads, infrastructure etc..... You can't provide these things if you continually sink money into, and possibly raise taxes for one facility that has proven that it can't operate.

    So no, those who are against the Y not receiving more money are not against a progressive town. They just want real progression, not the continued propping up of a dead horse

  • Cesar
    January 18, 2010 - 11:02

    The only reason the County has made a commitment is because the local Tory association is running County Council and they are politicking for Keith Hunter at county tax payers expense. If Hunter wants to run for the Provincial Tories he should resign his Council seat. Great publicity at County tax payers expense.

  • taxpayer
    January 18, 2010 - 10:58

    Ceasar, you have a good point, the county is great at promoting their own. Im sure this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wasting tax dollars at the county.

    Im not for closing the pool but I never use it and feel my tax dollars could be better spent. I to, believe it should be a user pay system just like any form of entertainment and if it sinks then let it sink.

  • AM
    January 18, 2010 - 10:56

    To those of you that don't think amherst will become a ghost town you are WRONG. Look at how many people have already left this town, about half of my own graduating class have already left and don't plan on coming back! And honestly, I am considering not returning when I finish my education.

    The Town of Amherst is turning into a retirement community. The town is falling apart and the former councils have had no idea what they have been doing (like fighting over Condos!!!!). You didn't hear the swimmers/Y-users complaining when the stadium got an upgrade.

    so i will complain now....

    The only thing that this town seems to support is Hockey. If you are not interested in or participate in Hockey then the town doesn't care about you so you might as well move elsewhere!

  • J
    January 18, 2010 - 10:55

    actually NT I want a place to live in where my family has the opportunity to do things. Truro has a public pool, Miramichi yes even that place has a public pool. the super 8 doens't quite cut it. its amherst's shame to let the pool go. but then again who really cares...about no more swim programs for kids, no more swim teams. Oh I know some of you have nothing to do with the pool but ya know I have nothing to do with hockey and yet my tax dollars went to the stadium so old people can go and watch hockey. But the stadium and the pool are one and the same, it makes the community much more fulfilling. Live in River Hebert all you want and take advantage of low taxes but your kids won't stay and eventually you are a ghost town.

  • askhim
    January 18, 2010 - 10:55

    I completely agree with 'close it for good'. Enough already with the begging of money for a facility that is only for certain people.

    I would rather see it ripped down and something better put in it's place like a multifunctional facility with many activities to do.

  • NT
    January 18, 2010 - 10:49

    @Enough - The Y is not just another business like Walmart, it is a community service. If all of our services were private businesses we wouldn't have much.

    I don't use the stadium, the ball field, Bridge Workshop, Early Intervention, Maggies Place, most of the parks, the high school, the yet-to-be skate park, the July 1 celebration, or most of the other things Amherst has to offer, yet I support them all because they are contributing parts of our community. Oddly enough nobody raises an eyebrow when these other institutions get funding, even though they may serve less people than the Y does. The town made a decision a few years ago to get rid of Dickie Park pool and support the Y instead of competing, a smart move if you ask me. It's just another of those services you expect in a town this size.

    Let's not forget that the Y is more than a pool, it is kindergarten in more facilities than on Church Street, day care and after school care, fitness for all, raquetball, a facility used by many companies for parties, and many other things. Losing the pool would be the beginning of the end of many valuable contributing programs in our community, and set bad precedent for all other public funded programs.

  • Just
    January 18, 2010 - 10:48

    I would enjoy hearing what *askhim* has to offer in terms of these **many activities** he mentioned in his post. Above, he stated:
    **I would rather see it ripped down and something better put in it's place like a multifunctional facility with many activities to do. **
    Why would you rip down a place that offers multiple activities to build a new one that offers your preferred multiple activities. What are your activities, exactly?

  • j
    January 18, 2010 - 10:47

    Close it for good - no facts, just like to complain? Do you think that closing the Y will make new people coming to this area think that Amherst is a great place to live if they cannot keep it going. To say that only 150 people will be affected is ridiculous, you need to start looking at the big picture. Another failed business in this town is not going to attract the attention that we want. It seems worth it to me. BTW over 100 million people use facebook, so none of the people on there have lives? Sounds like you need to get with the times.

  • my opion
    January 18, 2010 - 10:45

    200 300 only peope want save pool out how many people in cumberland co?wonder out that 200 or 300 people are sponsered to have membership i now our family can not afford membership? second only pool closing so out this 200 or 300 people if close pool there not going use y anymore

  • nova scotia mother
    January 18, 2010 - 10:43

    I myself am so tired of hearing about how this town needs a pool.....There are other pools...has anyone of you had a swim at the Wandlyn pool? Or taken there kids to the Super 8.. And I am the first one to support the SMILE program but if the Y closes there are other places for this program to run out of...We do have community school's Spring Street or Cumberland North at any given time would love to have the SMILE program move to there gym...There are other places for this to be held...So stop using this progam as a leaning post to make people feel sorry for a building that is going down hill. There are other Gyms for people to work out in, Body Fit and Your Place to name 2.
    This is not and never will be a ghost town..It is what you make of it, there are plenty of things to do in this town. My kids don't go to the Y and I am always on the go with them doing lots of stuff. My hat goes off to you people who work out everyday...But My goodness stop going on and on about if it weren't for the Y you wouldn't be working out and be healthier....So your telling me if the Y closed you couldn't join another Gym and stay just as fit?
    I don't really care if it stays open or if it closes...BUT STOP WINING ABOUT IT LET THE STAFF DO WHAT THEY CAN TO FIX IT IF THEY CAN..AND IF THEY CAN'T MOVE ON TO SOME WHERE ELSE.
    Closing the YMCA is not the end of this town. Maybe it could be the beginning of a new road...Taking that money and spending it somewhere else on something new..What about our soccer program that it big in this town...a building for the kids so they can play soccer all year...along with other indoor sports... mmmmmm sounds like the kids would get more use out of something like this then they would a pool where they can only swim maybe once a day at a certain time of day that is never a good time for anyone anyway unless you live at the Y.....
    TIME TO MOVE ON AND WHAT WILL BE WILL BE.......

  • j
    January 18, 2010 - 10:42

    NT ... well said. It seems that the negative people, that are already here, do not care about attracting new people to our community.

  • Fuzzy Bear
    January 18, 2010 - 10:38

    Gosh...everyone needs to take a dip and cool off!!
    To pool or not to pool... that is the question.
    Couple of facts folks...a pool on its own will not bring people to Amherst....jobs and work will. What new industry or jobs are coming here? NADA!! If as much effort were put into this then I'm sure our population would be greater than approx. 9.5K and a taxpayer funded pool would be a great addition to our towns resume.
    Everyone should take the time to research what towns in NS and NB with a population close to ours have a taxpayer funded pool.....I just did!! While many have a YMCA few support a pool with 9.5K. population...Why?? The cost of operating it is why. Private pools at local motels etc. seem to be supplying this needed service for those wishing it.
    With no industry coming here the users of the Y cannot expect retired and low income non users of the Y to support their desire for a pool.
    After all no one's taxes helps pay the low income earners oil bills, grocery bills or movie tickets if they can afford to have recreation time.

  • Concerned
    January 18, 2010 - 10:37

    The comments about the Y only being for a selected few is very disheartening. The programs and facility are available to all who choose to use them. It is a community YMCA- why would anyone wish for such a needed resource to close? The people it serves are testimonies to it need- go to the Y any day, and you will see ACTIVE, HAPPY people of all ages. To the powers that be, lets not loose this resource. If anyone needs a warm feeling, check out the Y on Saturdays at noon when the SMILE participants are leaving. The happiness on their faces says it all. Unfortunately, the current pool closure means that they are not able to swim right now. We hope that is only a temporary event- this area needs a pool.

  • Janet
    January 18, 2010 - 10:36

    I wanted to write again and thank ALL the staff who work so hard to provide a healthy place for the community's children :o)
    We can't wait to see the improvements started once the capital expenditure funding comes through!
    There is no room anymore for negative energy so it's just not worth listening to. Chin up to all of you who work so hard and put all of our children first.
    There will be a positive outcome for all of this...it may require us all to adapt to something different, but I know we're all up to it!
    The organization has never been in better 'hands' IMO and Paul P., Trina C. and the rest of the board have been able to carve some very healthy change in a very short while...keep it up!
    Looking forward to the future with our Y leading the way :o)

  • enough
    January 18, 2010 - 10:34

    The fact is, that if 10, 15, or 20 percent of the population of Amherst and the County wanted to use the Y on a regular basis the facility would not be able to serve them. It would be overcrowded. In fact this happened the last time the Y was in trouble and people stepped up to buy memberships if my memory serves me correct. People were showing up to work out etc... and the facility was full and they couldn't do their activity or had to wait. This lead to these individuals not to renew their member ships. So this is where a better/bigger facility comes into play. You have to be able to execute your service or people will not patronize you.

  • enough
    January 18, 2010 - 10:34

    NT - the Y needs to at least cover it's cost like any other non-profit it can't continue to be subsidized with such a small percentage of the town/county population using it.

    As for the stadium:

    It has a major paying tenant: the Rambler organization. Their game and practice time is not free.

    Rambler games on average attract 600 to 1200 people every Saturday through the winter plus playoffs

    Provides ice time to skating club again user pay

    It serves town and county minor hockey. Which is user pay

    It generates revenue from ice time rentals...a lot of ice time rentals

    Provides free skating to children

    Provides space at a cost for home show, dog show etc.

    Has free walking track for people

    The list could go on so really many more people use it than the Y. So you can't really compare them

    How many people could you fit in the Y if they all showed up to work out at say 6 pm? Can the facility fit 1000 + people for activities on any given hour? Not likely.

  • enough
    January 18, 2010 - 10:29

    You mean 2 - 5% of the communities childern, and I'm sorry you don't value other opinions.