CINCINNATI – Big changes coming to the Melrose YMCA will eliminate one of its members’ favorite activities.
Some members like Jerry Cobb and Chuck Burke were sad to find out that as the Walnut Hills Y morphs in a huge makeover, welcoming a charter school and several social services agencies into its building on Melrose Avenue, the Y is losing its swimming pool.
After 74 years, the Y will temporarily close this month for the makeover. In addition, the fitness room will be renovated and moved downstairs.
Cobb said the Y has been his home away from home since the 1960s. He goes there for friends, fitness and fun.
“There's a lot of elderly people that come here and they come here for aqua aerobics and just getting out of the house,” Cobb said. “The steam room, sauna and whirlpool hot tub, it's relaxing.”
But it is also very expensive. The swimming pool alone drains nearly 40 percent of the facility's budget.
Pair that with declining enrollment, and CEO Jorge Perez says it is time to re-focus to better fit the needs of a changing community.
“We are not leaving Walnut Hills. We are actually looking for ways to serve more individuals,” Perez said.
“I can understand that certain individuals that have been used to using the facility a certain way, that their way of using it is gonna change, but to those individuals we want to work with them and accommodate them,” Perez said.
The Melrose Y will close temporarily on Dec. 21 to make room for Life Skills Charter School on the second floor. The building will also welcome Freestore Foodbank, Easterseals and the City Gospel Mission.
Unless they can find the funding, there are no immediate plans to keep the pool, which was the big draw for so many.
“When you take something like this out of a neighborhood, a lot of people are affected, so it's really kind of a shame,” Burke said.
YMCA members like Burke can use the 13 other YMCAs in Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky, but it won’t be the same, he said.
“I'll probably go to Western Hills. You can go to any Y, but this is home,” Burke said.