Changes announced for Winston Lake; pool still in question

Changes announced for Winston Lake; pool still in question
April 21
00:00 2016



Next month the Winston Lake Family YMCA will close early on Saturdays and be closed on Sundays according to officials with the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina.

Last week The Chronicle reported that in response to a 20 percent decline in membership revenue, and an annual loss of $400,000 that translates to $2 million since 2011, board members are looking to make changes to help overcome shortfalls.

Proposed changes include cutting hours, closing the portion of the building where the pool is located, and transferring current staff members. A letter sent to members last week stated that the changes in weekend hours will be implemented May 21.

A major leadership change will take place next month at Winston Lake as well. Current branch director Terry Matthews will be moved to the Long Family YMCA in Clemmons and Richard Daniels, the vice president of operations at Fulton Family YMCA, will serve as the director at Winston Lake.

The proposed closing of the pool didn’t go over well with the members and has led YMCA board members to rethink their plans.

During a meeting held on Friday, April 8, a number of longtime members of the branch said they did not want to see the pool go.

“We need our pool right here in this community,” Veronica Rousseau said. “A lot of us are seniors and that pool is a big help for our health.”

After receiving backlash from members, president and chief executive of the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina Curt Hazelbaker said they are currently looking at ways to keep the pool open. According to Hazelbaker, officials are currently looking to community partners and local non-profit organizations to help with the expense of keeping the pool open.

“Based on the feedback from the members at the Winston Lake branch, we are going to see what our options are,” he said. “Once we have had conversations with those potential partners, we will make a decision.”

Hazelbaker said aside from local non-profit organizations, they have also discussed a potential partnership with the city. Hazelbaker noted they are looking for partners to help with the entire operation of the branch, not just the upkeep of the pool.

Prior to the meeting between YMCA officials and Winston Lake branch members, there had not been any talks about a partnership with the city. City Council member Derwin Montgomery said although no one has contacted him directly, he and other elected officials are dedicated to keeping the branch open that serves the Eastern portion of the city and the African-American community.

Board members are expected to have a series of meetings with members of Winston Lake next week to discuss ways to keep the pool open. While a timetable to make a final decision is not yet in place, Hazelbacker mentioned a decision will be made before the end of the year. He also said although change is hard, “We will remain dedicated to serving the East Winston community. That will not change,” Hazelbacker said.

Although they are still awaiting word on the pool, a number of residents  told The Chronicle that they are happy board members are making an effort to include the members at Winston Lake in the decision making process.

“For years we have been left in the dark about what happens here at Winston Lake,” said Veronica Brown,  longtime member and volunteer. “Including us in the decision-making process can make a big difference.

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