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Vernon Hills, Waukegan YMCA Facilities to Close Oct. 31

Finances are to blame for the planned closure.

After just over 11 years in Vernon Hills—and 100 in Waukegan—the Lake County Family YMCA announced Sept. 28 that it will permanently close the doors of both of its facilities at the end of this month.

The reason for the Oct. 31 closure, as stated in a press release on the Lake County Family YMCA website, is "due to insufficient financial resources to sustain operations on a long-term basis."

Anne O'Connell, vice president of marketing for the organization, said the "financial situation has been under scrutiny for quite some time" and that the decision to close was careful considered by the organization's board of directors.

"Membership has declined. Our contributed support has declined," said O'Connell. "The economy has definitely taken its toll."

O'Connell added that the Y has "had tremendous support from the community. People are saddened and have been asking how they can help."

Chartered in 1912, with its roots in Waukegan, the Central Lake YMCA (700 Lakeview Pkwy., Vernon Hills) and the Northern Lake YMCA (2000 Western Ave., Waukegan) have a total membership of about 2,300.

According to the press release on the organization's website, members can transfer their memberships for free to a number of other local YMCA facilities, including: Foglia YMCA, Lake Zurich; North Suburban YMCA, Northbrook; Kenosha YMCA Callahan Family Branch, Kenosha; and Hastings Lake YMCA, Lindenhurst.

“The Board of Directors is quite saddened by this difficult situation,” Chair Diane Fleming said in the press release. “Our YMCA has reduced operating costs and implemented measures to increase membership and contributed income. We also reached out extensively to a variety of potential community partners to try to find a solution. But in the end, the impact of the economic downturn on our operations proved too difficult to overcome.”

There are also 34 full-time and 98 part-time employees, many of whom are long-term employees who are "very passionate about the Y," O'Connell said. She said employees have been provided resources, including websites, where they can look for job openings. She noted that all of the Y's are separate, so if a Lake County Family YMCA employee wanted to find work at another YMCA, he or she would have to look at that facility's openings and apply there.

While the facilities will close to members Oct. 31, the childcare programs will stay in operation until Nov. 21, according to the press release.

“Our hearts go out to the families as they seek alternative childcare,” Fleming said in the press release. “We have provided affordable and quality programs for the Lake County community for many years, and we’re sorry to be unable to continue to do so. Our members have been wonderful. We also regret the impact this closing might have on our staff, many of whom have long tenures with the Y and a huge passion for the mission of the YMCA in Lake County.”

Lori Progar October 02, 2012 at 01:47 PM
My daughter and her friend recently joined. They paid their years membership upfront, instead of paying every month. When they inquired about getting their refund, they were told that the "Y" was talking to their attorney's. I sure hope that the YMCA will do the right thing, and give them back their money. Maggie has 3 small children and has her own financial problems. It just goes to show that none of us should be paying up front. Nothing is recession proof at this point.
PitMomma October 02, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Well I hope they get thier money back, the fact is the Y has a lot of out standing debts and not enough money to cover it all. Well your daghter getting her money back is certainly the right thing, they Y has to do what they are legally allowed and legally required. Unfortunetly your daughter is at the bottom of the list legally.
PitMomma October 02, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I dont know what is wrong with my brain today... while
JR October 02, 2012 at 10:39 PM
My daughter and I are saddened bec. we were planning on joining in Nov. so we could swim throughout the winter. Bummer.
Juren October 03, 2012 at 09:54 PM
We called on Saturday to join and were told it was closing. Our kids are also disappointed that they won't be swimming through the winter. I think it would be perfect for the Park District to purchase and expand their programming.

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