Published: Feb 23, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Feb 22, 2013 12:50 PM
Now that board Chair Dabney Grinnan has belatedly set down the alleged rationale for the plans to eliminate the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA’s racquetball/handball courts, the move can be examined and its faults exposed.
First, the plan was based exclusively on admittedly random surveys of members that have not been available for examination despite repeated requests. Why? Look closely at Grinnan’s words: “... Nearly 45 percent of people who said they were unhappy with the Y listed this [crowdedness] as the reason they wouldn’t recommend the Y to friends, family, or neighbors.”
So, by her own admission, the plan responds to the desires of fewer than half of the UNHAPPY members surveyed. What percentage of the total number of respondents were “unhappy” is tellingly left unsaid. Such a vague and confounding statistic is surely an illogical basis for undertaking an enormously expensive and facility-disruptive construction project. And why, in the face of their already space-constrained facility, they would welcome additional family, friends, and neighbors boggles the imagination. Is there an unspoken agenda at work?
Second, basing organizational policy on “customer-satisfaction” questionnaires is a well-established business model, but it is not appropriate for an organization like the Y. Businesses have a bottom line (profit) and operate in a competitive environment, neither of which is relevant to the Y. The Y is a nonprofit, community organization supported in substantial part by public monies and charitable contributions. Its mission speaks not to the greatest good for the greatest number but to “building healthy spirit, mind, and body” underpinned by Christian principles and “working together with neighbors ... Strengthening community is our cause.”
Of course members’ satisfaction and expectations should be considered and accommodated to the extent possible, but respondents to a 2-minute, 2-question survey cannot be presumed to be taking into account the broad, nuanced mission of the Y. They are simply identifying their own individual wants and needs. It is the responsibility of the Board to reconcile these wants and needs with the organization’s guiding principles and social goals.
Third, and by far most damning, is the clandestine and autocratic manner in which this proposal was researched and adopted. Had the day-to-day management of the Y or the Board brought the space problems they say they face to our attention and set up discussions to deal with them, much of the present rancor would have been avoided. And, more importantly, another – likely better – solution might well have emerged. Y members are an intelligent and educated group, and a goodly number have had professional careers in management. Everyone would have profited had suggestions and alternatives been solicited and considered before the decision was a fait accompli. In fact, in recent weeks our own group of morning racquetballers has come up with several possible ways of mitigating the space issue without eliminating any present resources or activities.
In conducting its decision-making process in isolation, the Y has not only deprived itself of the best possible outcome, but acted in a manner clearly contrary to the principles of the national organization.Norm Miller lives in Carrboro.
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