We were disappointed to report the pending closure of the Oswego Family YMCA on Aug. 15.
According to YMCA officials, the shutdown of the facility is due to School District 308's pending plan to sell the former Traughber Junior High School, which has served as the YMCA’s home for the past nine years. In an email sent to the YMCA’s more than 3,000 local members, Heather Appling, associate executive director for the facility, said YMCA officials do not want leave their current location, but “after a thorough review, including an assessment of nearby facilities for a potential alternative, we found no suitable option.”
The SD308 Board of Education has received an offer from a private development firm to renovate the old junior high school on Franklin Street near downtown Oswego for a new use as an apartment building for seniors. The Oswego Senior Center, which shares space at the former school with the YMCA, would remain in the building.
Since it set up operations in a storefront at the Mason Square shopping center at the corner of Route 34 and Douglas Road in 2001, the YMCA has carved out a solid niche in the Oswego-Montgomery community. The move into the former Traughber Junior High School in 2009 was especially fortuitous for the YMCA, the school district and the community. The old school, with its 23,000 square feet of programming space including a modern gym, was well suited for the YMCA and its programming needs, and the school district secured a tenant whose mission – like the school district's – is to serve the community.
Not surprisingly, the Y’s membership shot up from 400 individuals to more than 3,500 when it moved from the shopping center into the old school. Certainly the school’s location near downtown Oswego – just blocks from Route 71 and Route 34 – made it a convenient for the Y’s adult members to drop off and pick up kids or get some exercise themselves on the fitness equipment.
But the YMCA’s pending shutdown will create a void in the community for kids, parents and seniors. Ironically, it comes at a time when the local population continues to grow and it appears more and more parents are seeking the convenience and safety of having their kids participate in organized camps and other activities at reasonable prices.
Over the past 17 years, the YMCA has demonstrated that there is a need and a market in the community for organized recreational programs and facilities for all ages, beyond the Oswegoland Park District’s extensive offerings. We noted that in announcing the Y’s pending closure, officials indicated they are continuing to “explore potential partnerships” that would allow it to continue in Oswego. We wish them well in those efforts and hope that in the not-so-distant future we’ll have some better news to report on the YMCA front.