Friday, December 11, 2009

The negative consequences of meddling

The issue of the South Toledo YMCA is again in the news. In case you've forgotten, the Y Board decided to close down that location and give the property to Cedar Creek Church.

A bunch of neighbors, fueled by the The Blade - followed quickly by politicians - all decided that the Y didn't have a clue when it comes to running a facility and that they knew better. They insisted that the location stay open, despite running at a deficit. The Y Board, trying to appease the negative publicity spewed daily on the front pages of the paper, offered a compromise: get 500 new memberships and the facility would be able to stay open.

Of course, that required 500 new people to join one of the older facilities - something that seemed impossible.

And it was.

The Y lowered the target to 376, but so far, only 111 new memberships have been placed - and that's despite the discounted rate they were offered.

So the facility will be closed.

And now the kicker: because of all the negative coverage, Cedar Creek Church is no longer interested in that location. From today's paper:

The Rev. Lee Powell, a senior pastor at the church, said yesterday that CedarCreek informed the Y about two week ago that it's no longer interested. The property was last appraised at $445,400.

The church planned to spend up to $2 million to convert the building into a chapel as part of a tentative deal struck earlier this year with the Y.

But the CedarCreek deal was put on hold following a public outcry over the YMCA's announcement that it would close the branch at the end of August.
Mr. Powell said the church lost interest because of inadequacies with the property's access road and "neighborhood sensitivity." He said CedarCreek is now looking at other locations in South Toledo.

"We don't want the demise of the membership drive to be our win," the pastor said. "We don't want to be a negative in the community - we want to be a positive."

So the meddling of all these people has resulted in (partly) the same outcome they were trying to avoid.

The Blade will be happy, though, because they were able to accomplish their vendetta and get rid of YMCA CEO Robert Alexander.

The politicians will be happy because they joined in the effort and will get/take credit for 'trying,' despite the fact that they had no impact whatsoever on the end result.

The neighborhood, however, is screwed. Yes, that very same neighborhood that some were saying needed the Y.

Instead of the Y, they would have had a church - certainly not a bad tenant of that property and a good neighbor to have. But now, thanks to the efforts of some, all in the neighborhood will have an empty structure since the church has decided they're no longer interested. That's a $2 million investment the church had planned that won't be made in that spot.

And in today's economy, it's not likely that the Y will find another party, with similar financial resources, interested in taking over a declining building.

So what was accomplished? The current outcome is worse than if the Y had just been able to make their same decision on their own timeline.

There are lessons to be learned here, but somehow, I don't think Toledoans will get it.


navyvet said...


Mad Jack said...

Did the place ever make money, or was it a perpetual money pit?

I can understand why Cedar Creek is no longer interested - the property isn't free anymore, and there might be bad publicity attached. That's two strikes, with the third being costly renovations.

The Reverend Lee Powell (Hallelujah! Save me Brother!) has a license to mint tax free money and he knows it. Powell is a lot of things but stupid isn't one of them. Note the careful phrasing from Powell: The church planned to spend up to $2 million... Meaning that the church would spend between zero and two million on renovations. They don't have to spend much of anything.

Personally, I'd sooner live next to an empty building for a while rather than any property owned by Cedar Creek church.

James said...

Did the politicians who wanted to keep the Y open buy memberships? Just wondering if they put their money where their mouths were.

Maggie said...

James - I wondered that too!

I remember when there was a push to keep the Storm in town...all the politicians lined up to pass resolutions supporting the team and urging people to buy season tickets.

I checked at the time and I was the only elected official that bought season tickets (2) though I recall that Jack Ford purchased a packet for several games.

My experience in this area is that they seldom put their own money where their mouths are...

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