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Letter to the Editor: TROUBLING ASPECTS OF YMCA’S DECISION TO SELL ITS ESCONDIDO CAMPUS

This letter was originally sent by Jack Anderson to the YMCA of San Diego County and is reprinted with his permission.

I write this letter after reading the unsettling news in the Escondido Times-Advocate, that the YMCA of San Diego County intends to sell the Palomar Family YMCA facility. I am a 41-year resident of Escondido, and served on the Palomar Family YMCA Board from 1980-2003, including a term as Board Chair; and, I have remained a financial donor to the Palomar Family YMCA since that time. Since its inception, the Y has grown to meet Escondido’s needs both programmatically and through facility development with amazing philanthropic support from the community. The facilities that are intended to be sold are the result of community philanthropy and a commitment from the City of Escondido. The facilities are a capital asset to the YMCA Corporate entity, but more importantly, they are a community asset to the residents of the greater Escondido community. Countless residents of this community learned to swim, developed many critical life and leadership skills, maintained healthy lifestyles and received much-needed child care services from Palomar Family’s amazing staff leadership. As stated in the news article, “YMCA officials attributed the need to sell the property to the COVID-19 pandemic, which destroyed the Y’s programs last year.” Based on that statement, is one to presume that 12 months of COVID challenges, and their impact on our communities and nation (and presumably the other branches of the San Diego YMCA) are sufficient to remove an essential community asset forever? Is your Corporate Board satisfied to let a pandemic dictate your service provision capability… Or, are we all striving to overcome the pandemic and resume services even more strongly? Can one also presume that the YMCA’s mission; “The YMCA of San Diego County is dedicated to improving the quality of human life and to helping all people realize their fullest potential as children of God through the development of the spirit, mind and body.” is deemed to be completely fulfilled for the Escondido community? And, such mission fulfillment, determines that there is no longer a need for the YMCA to remain a critical partner with the Escondido community and its other serving organizations that support children, families and other community needs? What also troubles me is that the first inkling to the community of this drastic change in community resources came in a newspaper article. What effort was undertaken by the Corporate YMCA body to engage the community in this important decision? My personal and professional experience (27 years in various community leadership roles with the City of Escondido) was always driven by engaging the community through critical decision processes. I understand completely the challenging impact of the COVID pandemic, both from an emotional/social perspective as well as an economic impact. However, one does not allow such challenges to forever impact the value of a 50 plus-year serving relationship with a community.

JACK W. ANDERSON, Escondido

(Mr. Anderson is a retired US Naval Reserve Office and former assistant city manager of Escondido.)

6 responses to “Letter to the Editor: TROUBLING ASPECTS OF YMCA’S DECISION TO SELL ITS ESCONDIDO CAMPUS”

  1. Julie Fidel says:

    Thank you for your eloquent words and your years of service to our country and on the board, Mr. Anderson. My family and I have lived here in Escondido for decades and have visited the YMCA for so many different reasons. The YMCA here and it’s staff over the years have always been exactly what we needed when we needed it. Like water polo practice, rec volleyball leagues, exercise classes, even an amazing place for teenagers to hang out, the local Y is an integral experience of neighborhood living. This YMCA is important to our community. Please let us in Escondido know what we can do to keep from losing it.

  2. Vince Nutile says:

    Mr. Anderson, your comments are dead on. Our family has been members of the Palomar Y since we moved here 12 years ago. I read that their membership went from over 3000 families to 90 something during Covid; why weren’t the other 3000 of us notified or allowed to be engaged in finding a solution?

  3. Joan Parker says:

    Thank you Mr Anderson. The Palomar Y with all the many recreational opportunities that have been available to the Community through the Y have enhanced many families and individuals. What can we do to save this important landmark of Escondido?

  4. Robert E Quezada says:

    Mr. Anderson, my family had been a member of the YMCA for decades, through the sports program with our children, my son and mother-in-law doing water aerobics together, swimming laps in the pool with my 20 year old son, I have deep memories. Last year, I made not several but many calls to the Palomar Office, and then through other offices in Upland, Encinitas & Oceanside, and was never able to get a clear answer on the situation with Escondido.

    I had switched my membership to Scheu YMCA in Upland a few years ago because I work in Rancho Cucamonga and spend the majority of my time at this facility. Scheu YMCA requested that I financially support the location I frequent the most. I honestly would have had no problem paying double dues, because I believe in the cause, and I travel extensively and visit YMCA’s through out the US.

    I wish I would have know. Like an ailing loved one, if I had known I would have asked “what can I do”. I will be keeping my eyes and ears open to see if I can be part of any effort to revive this location.
    I understand the hardships gyms faced with Covid, I hope we can be part of a Renaissance.

  5. Dianna Smith says:

    I agree with all your comments. It is a vital community asset for many families and children who need this YMCA. I have been a member for a number of years and when my children were here in the 1980’s we were all members. I had heard nothing about the Y closing. I kept paying my dues during the pandemic until they told me they would no longer be charging me. I tried to view that as a donation to help them through this challenging time. It is disturbing to me that I was not given the opportunity to help in their time of need. Is the Escondido YMCA the only one closing in the county? If we can find a way to reopen and keep the YMCA in Escondido it would be greatly appreciated.

  6. James P Nelson says:

    Thank you for your letter, Mr. Anderson. My family and I have belonged to the Palomar family YMCA for many years. Before I retired from my job as an airline pilot (early due to covid), I spent many layovers in other cities around the country, and, when available, I would use the YMCAs in those cities to go and swim laps in the pools. By far, the best facility I used was the Palomar YMCA. The only facility close to Palomar’s was the YMCA in Orlando on Universal Drive, which had a 50 meter pool and a really nice weightroom, but nothing else, unlike Palomar’s basketball courts, childcare, etc. Escondido needs to move on this campus and keep it available for Escondido (really, a lot of North County) residents.

    I called the San Diego County Y headquarters last fall (during pandemic) to find out why other branches had re-opened, but not Palomar’s. What I was told during one conversation was that only Palomar and two other branches in the county lost money on an annual basis, so they were not opening during the pandemic. Is the county YMCA selling those other two campuses. too?

    We need to keep this facility as a recreation center. What can we do to make this happen?

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