SARASOTA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Membership at the Sarasota Family YMCA has been declining over the last decade. Now, two Bay Area YMCA fitness centers are set to close later this year.
The two branches affected are the Evalyn Sadlier Jones Branch on Potter Park Drive and the Frank G. Berlin Sr. Branch on South Euclid Avenue.
Thousands of YMCA members will have to find a new gym, and more than 300 employees will soon lose their jobs.
In a letter sent to members, the Sarasota YMCA says it has operated at a financial loss for the last several years. Interim CEO Steve Bourne says membership levels have dropped to a level that cannot be sustained.
"About 12 years ago, we had 12,500 members, we now have 6,500 members between the two branches," said Bourne. "In that 10 years, a huge number of commercial gyms, boutique studios, and frankly, competition from condos and from housing developments who have a fitness facility in their complex. Those have all taken away memberships."
While the two fitness centers will close down, the Sarasota YMCA will continue its foster care and social services programs.
The fitness centers will be sold. They will shut their doors for the final time on Friday, September 13.
A copy of the letter sent to members of both branches reads:
Dear YMCA Member,
It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you that the two Sarasota Family YMCA fitness centers will close permanently on Friday, September 13, 2019 at 5 p.m. These fitness centers are the Evalyn Sadlier Jones Branch at Potter Park Drive and the Frank G. Berlin Sr. Branch on South Euclid Avenue.
Despite best efforts that were made to try to stabilize the operations of those fitness centers, they have operated at a financial loss for the past several years and the YMCA can no longer sustain them. With the closing of these fitness centers, the YMCA Board will be turning 100% of its focus to operating the YMCA’s ongoing foster care and social services programs that have served vulnerable populations in this community for many decades, including abused, neglected and at-risk children. The YMCA’s mission has always been to meet community needs, and in continuing to operate these important foster care and social service programs this mission of the YMCA will continue to be fulfilled.
YMCA leaders and board members considered closure of the fitness centers as the last possible alternative. This decision was finally made after substantial cost cutting, changes to pricing, modifications of program offerings, and other actions failed to make a measurable improvement. We reached out to the national YMCA organization and other Florida YMCA’s in an effort to merge the Sarasota fitness centers into other YMCA’s, without success. We also spoke with important funders in the community seeking financial support but those efforts were not fruitful.
Here is what happens next:
Members will have access to both fitness centers through 5pm on Friday September 13, 2019.
The last membership payment draft will be on August 15,2019.
Members who have prepaid their annual or semi-annual membership fee will receive a pro-rated refund.
Programs and sports activities will not be continued past the closure date and refunds will be processed on a pro-rated basis.
The before and after-school program will continue at the Southside, Gocio and Fruitville elementary schools.
This is not the outcome we wanted. Our hearts go out to everyone in the extended Sarasota YMCA family affected by this. The YMCA exists to serve the needs of the community and it will continue that mission through our foster care and social services programs.
Please reach out to managers and administration with any questions you have. We will do all we can to provide answers and support during this process.
Sarasota Family YMCA