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Freedom Valley Y Leaders Say Merger Opponents are Race-Baiting

An e-mail from the Freedom Valley YMCA's management criticizes a flyer sent to members yesterday.

Freedom Valley YMCA members received an e-mail from the organization late Wednesday afternoon, November 14, regarding a flyer that was reportedly left at the Phoenixville YMCA's information desk listing seven reasons to vote against the merger with the Philadelphia YMCA. 

"Not one of the issues addressed in the flyer was factually accurate," the e-mail reads.

YMCA leaders have repeatedly asserted that there is a "lot of misinformation" being disseminated regarding the merger.

[Editor's note: A copy of the e-mail from the YMCA can be read in the PDF section of this article.]

The e-mail goes on, however, to sharply criticize the language in the flyer. 

The e-mail reads, "An example of the type of vitriol that is now being strewn follows – and this is a direct quote from the flyer: 

'Do you think it's possible under the proposed merger for a couple bus loads of inner-city Y members to trek out to OUR Y to enjoy the beautiful pools on a hot summer day? Or overrun our playgrounds? It will be if you allow this merger. So get in line because the crowds are coming. We have great facilities, but they will soon be at risk to over-use, crowding, damage, depreciation, and possibly vandalism.'"

The e-mail continues: "More offensive than the falsehood, however, is the not too subtle racial overtone in the message. The author suggests in the flyer that a merger with Main Line Y would be fine... but not with center city Philly."

The e-mail says that the bigotry displayed in the flyer is "anathema to everything for which the YMCA stands, and should cause any member to take umbrage that this is the type of scare tactic being adopted by some of those opposed to the merger."

"This is what happens when there are no valid arguments to support one's position," the e-mail contends. 

A vote on the merger is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday night, Nov. 15, at Chadwick's Restaurant, 2750 Egypt Road in Audubon. According to information presented at a town hall on Monday evening, Freedom Valley YMCA members who wish to vote must attend the meeting. 

Both sides, Freedom Valley and Philadelphia, have to agree on the merger for it to happen. 

Ed Roper November 16, 2012 at 06:50 PM
The war on intellectualism continues.
Paul O'Leary November 16, 2012 at 07:18 PM
This merger has been approved by both sides by the vote. It is done.
1 November 16, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Good. Maybe now people will find something else to have fake outrage about....
JM November 16, 2012 at 08:16 PM
The YMCA sent out plenty of communication. I received two letters in the mail, at least two emails, and there were tables set up in the lobby of both Phoenixville and Spring Valley. I really can't believe people think that it was not sufficient communication.
PHANTOM November 16, 2012 at 09:25 PM
If a dictionary is needed to translate an "information intended" email, they are clearly using the wrong vernacular! (do YOU need a translation?)
birdfan November 16, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Im not a member of any Y ever but if I were a member of a small town Y I would not want to merge with any big city Y. Plain and simple. Its like merging two different planets. City life and country life. It doesnt mesh well. You have a good thing, it works why change it.
Caren Kolter November 16, 2012 at 11:17 PM
I think a Y membership should give access to every Y.
Chris November 17, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Judi, I'll take your word for it that you received communications. I'd appreciate the same faith in my response when I again tell you many others did not.
harry finster November 17, 2012 at 02:55 AM
ha ha ha did you ever wonder why the farther you get from philadelphia the higher the home prices ?
1 November 17, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Try buying a home on Rittenhouse Square or anywhere in Old City or the water front condos....The "Main Line" is also closer to Phllly yet I bet you couldn't afford a 2 bedroom apartment in a place like Radnor. Your assessment of Philly is typical racist garbage most likely coming from a loser who lives in a row home in Phoenixville. ha ha ha
Jaxxon November 17, 2012 at 05:15 AM
It's called real estate redlining--which lead to the residential segregation (a) that arose in the course of the suburban development after World War II and (b) we live with today. It also happens within the city, but the division between urban and suburban is much more prominent.
Jaxxon November 17, 2012 at 05:18 AM
I forgot to mention: the real estate redlining I mentioned was (and still is) an unquestionably racist practice.
harry finster November 17, 2012 at 06:11 AM
if you looked at the big picture philadelphia is a collapsed city that the vibrant and alive people have fled ,that might be said for the whole phila area we have a saying where i live would the last person to leave pennsylvainia please turn out the lights
harry finster November 17, 2012 at 06:23 AM
heres what real estate cost when you get 2500 miles from filthydelphia http://www.marinmodern.com/idx/residential/21215362/details.html
Chris November 17, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Harry you are grossly misinformed. Check the last census. Philadelphia is one again growing in number of residents as well as businesses. Out is actuallyin terrific shape with all the institutions of higher education which draw businesses to talent which in turn draws people. In addition they are investing a substantial amount in airport expansion. The city is growing by leaps and bounds. I'd encourage you to read the 2035 plan as your assessment is factually inaccurate.
Ike November 17, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Why would the Y in Philly want to travel here to swim when they have a Y in Philly? Is not that why the Y has local Y s? The Phoenixville wouldnt want to travel to Philly to use the pool when they have one here? Right? Why would the Y want to waste money on gas and bbbbbusing, when Y in all states have local Y s? I can see say if a member werer visitinig a friend in another town and there was a Y in that town to use , than ,well ok THIER ALLRAEDY THERE , BUT WHY GO OUT OF THE WAY WHEN YOU CAN USE THE ONE IN YOUR HOME TOWN. I do not know , since a membership cost way too much for my family when they all were young , and i still think it does these days... Can someone tell me how much to say , a summer membership, if they have them . Ok thanks , this just sounds a lttle crazy , to go out of the way to use a Y , if you have one in your home town.
Hipster Kitty November 17, 2012 at 01:29 PM
You people understand that if people from the city get in the pool, you won't get contaminated from getting in the water too. It's not the 1950s anymore.
Tom November 17, 2012 at 01:36 PM
I am a member of the Freedom Valley Board and I was one of three board members who worked on the merger committee that met with our counterparts at the Philly Y. The important reasons for the merger have been distributed in many ways but they are apparently hard for some members to accept. 1.- The combination of the two Y's will make us among a handful of the most financially stable Y's in the country and will help to insure that we will be able to maintain the great facilities and service indefinitely 2- The merger will allow us to raise many more charitable contributions from large corporations and others who are in our expanded geographic area. We will be able to provide OVER 2 million dollars in scholarships to needy families in our existing branch areas. 3- The merger will provide more job opportunities for our employees and it will allow us to attract top notch employees because of the "scale" of our organization. The key to providing great service to our members lies with our ability to attract and retain great employees. 4- The merger will allow the Freedom Valley Y to take advantage of "pilot" programs (like diabetes prevention) where substantial funding is provided to only large organizations. We will now be able to obtain funding for many pilot programs that we can not take advantage of now. There are more advantages but these are the primary issues that drove our merger decisions
Tom November 17, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I want to add some additional comments to help members understand as many issues as possible. Again ... this is coming from a board member of the Freedom Valley Y. There has been many false statements made about the motivation of the top management of the Y. Unlike board members of "for-profit" companies the board members of the Y have nothing financially to gain from the decisions they make. Most board members are members of the Y ... they use the Y ... their families use the Y. We want the best for the Y because we want great service and great facilities for ourselves and our families. More importantly we also are committed to the mission of the Y. We want to help needy families who can't afford what we have to offer. We are currently building two more major facilities in Upper Perk and the Audubon/Norristown area that will enable us to provide services to many, many more people. The merger with Philly will allow us to continue this expansion in the future and it will and allow us to reach out to even more areas that are not served by a YMCA ... WITHOUT negatively impacting what we have now. About 90% of the issues addressed in the Town Hall meeting had to do with protecting what members have now and little to do with the big picture and the future health of the Y
Randy Morin November 17, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I am a Y member and my main concern about the merger is that our prices will go up. Most of of the Y branches in the Philly Y have higher membership dues than the Freedom Valley Y (roughly $10-15 per month). My other concern is that good programs may be dropped and/or changed. When the merger with Limerick occurred there were some programs (e.g., tween night) that my kids always enjoyed that disappeared. Of course this can work both ways so perhaps new programs may be added.
Ike November 17, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Why would you even say that? My thinking is that if you have a local Y why would you want to travel 46 mins to an hr. to swim? Its like going to Philly to buy something at Wegams , when there is one in Oaks. I must be missing something here.
Tom November 17, 2012 at 02:10 PM
The Flyer used by an opponent to the merger was left on branch information tables and it used the Y logo to make it appear it was from the Y. While the Y never claimed it was racially biased it was clearly culturally biased and meant to warn people about the problems with people from the "city" ... including theft. There have also been many, many absolute mis-statement of facts in emails, newspapers and verbally. If these comments were just verbal between members that is one thing but when they attempt to distribute obviously false statements with inflammatory remarks on flyers with the Y's logo it was very appropriate for the Y to respond to these tactics.
Tom November 17, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I am a member of the Freedom Valley Y Board of Directors and I left some comments below to help our members understand the big picture and why we want to merge. While the future changes for existing FVY members may not be evident the primary reason for the merger is to allow us to provide even more scholarships and financial help to the needy families within our current area ... and ... It will allow us to continue to expand and reach out to help communities that are either not served by a great Y facility or they are under-served by a struggling Y. We are proud of the way we reached out and invested in the construction of Spring Valley without any degradation of service to Phoenixville (in fact we expanded the Phoenixville branch substantially after we built SV). We are proud of the way we are building two more full service facilities at Upper Perk and Audubon. We realize that current members don't benefit much from those new facilities but our mission is not to just serve one community. The financial base we will have will insure that we can continue to provide great services and facilities to our current members AND we will be able to reach out to tens of thousands of others who can benefit from our experience, employees and volunteers. Ironically when we expand to new areas we tap the know-how and experience of members from current branches (volunteers) to help make the new branches a success. It is gratifying when we see current members reaching out to help others.
Sharon November 17, 2012 at 05:04 PM
From what I gathered from a previous article, there are no pools at the Philly Y.
Judi November 17, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Sharon, The Philadelphia Y is made up of several branches, some of which do have pools, even in the inner city. As an aside, I am not sure if anyone here is aware of the fact that neighborhood pools also exist in Philadelphia that are outdoor pools.
Judi November 17, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Hi Ike, to answer your question, yes, the Y still costs quite a bit, but I think it's worth it. Also, you can no longer get just a summer membership at Phoenixville. They did away with that many years ago. Another thing is that No one is going to go all the way to Phoenixville or Spring City when there are plenty of branches within the Philadelphia Y (like Rocky run in Media) where there are pools, so much closer to Philly. Then again, they don't see big influxes of people invading.
Judi November 17, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Chris, you are exactly right in your assessment. There are many professionals moving back into the city. The neighborhoods there are revitalizing, even in such places as South Philly! There are wonderful things to do in the city and young people are flocking there. I know some of them. It has been wonderful to see what this area has done just in the last 15 years, from Philly to Manyunk to Conshohocken to Phoenixville itself.
Ike November 17, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Thank you ,Judi
Chris November 17, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Thanks Tom. I think most of the issue was around communication. While it sounds like some members were notifed well in advance, others (myself included) received nothing. Another great eample was this weeks letter dispelling some of the myths. We have a family membership with 5 of us. We received one letter addressed to my 6 year old. Odd right? I think the merger is fairly benign from an impact to the members standpoint. Hopefully people will understand this.
harry finster November 18, 2012 at 08:00 AM
once you step off the campus you are in the third world sad comment on your collapsing society

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