Fulton YMCA Tries to Reassure Public About Potential Changes

Officials of the Fulton YMCA discussed their plans for the future at a Tuesday evening forum.

Those plans are open-ended; Officials say a year of study will reveal to them whether the Y should remain independent, share services with another area Y or merge operations with another YMCA.

Those plans are getting a workout this year.  The Fulton YMCA replaced retiring Director Betty Fadden with an interim director who works for the Syracuse YMCA.  The Syracuse Y is managing the Fulton facility under a one-year contract.

“This is not an issue of, ‘We need somebody to come save us’. It’s a matter of doing what’s best for the community,” said Fulton YMCA  board member Jeff Grimshaw, who added that the agency is financially sound.

“If we’re doing fine on our own, I say stay that way,” said one member of the public at the meeting.

But Grimshaw and board President Steve Osborn said that the job of running the Fulton Y may be too large for one person, as the director has to handle operations, fundraising, accounting and personnel management.  “That’s just an overwhelming burden,” said Osborn, who said that outsourcing some of those duties may allow the director to spend more time in the community.

The Fulton YMCA will spend the year assessing the three options against ten criteria.  The Syracuse YMCA will provide a report to the local board that looks at the issues.

Officials stressed that whether the Fulton YMCA remains independent or allies with another YMCA,  there will always be a local board.  They also reassured people that the change in management for the year would not affect programs if they are popular.

They heard complaints about cutting a latchkey program in the Fulton elementary schools.  Two of four latchkey sites closed due to low levels of use, officials said. Parents complained that they got no notice of the change and that they now have to drive their students to other schools, who wind up taking transfer buses to their schools.

Officials said they would take a second look at the issue if the parents would submit written complaints.

Later Tuesday night, at a Fulton Board of Education meeting, district administrator Betsy Conners mentioned the latchkey program change and indicated that the district would be talking to the YMCA about restoring the program in the other two elementary schools.