Published: Mar 09, 2013 09:45 AM
Modified: Mar 09, 2013 08:40 PM
CHAPEL HILL - In the wake of criticism over its decision to remove its racquetball courts, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA’s board of directors voted Friday to seek more input first.
“After hearing from stakeholders at the last board meeting, the board discussed ways to gather more feedback from our members about our plans for the future at the CHCYMCA,” board Chairwoman Dabney Grinnan said in a prepared release. “We also felt it was critical that we move quickly to respond.”
The board vote was nearly unanimous, she said.
“The goals of our new process will be to recognize the opportunities offered by the energy and interest expressed by members in recent weeks … to help this Y to grow in a positive direction,” Friday’s resolutions stated. “The board will continue the governance work it began last fall to determine best practices for nonprofit board meetings and by-laws.”
The board was responding to the concerns expressed by several YMCA members who play racquetball or handball on the hardwood courts at the facility at 980 Martin Luther King Blvd. in Chapel Hill. They had been upset by a posted notice at the courts that said they would be closed early this year and the space would be restructured for expanding the exercise equipment and fitness area.
Some YMCA members, including former board members, also had expressed unhappiness about being shut out of a board meeting at which court-users’ concerns were to be discussed.
Former Chapel Hill Town Council member Robert Epting, a YMCA member and handball player, later presented Grinnan with proposed bylaws changes that would prohibit most closed meetings of the board and that would delay any changes to the courts until after court-users have had input.
“I am told by Y officials that they will involve all the members of the Y who want to be included,” Epting said Friday. “We think that’s appropriate. We also understand that the racquetball courts will be left as they are until the end of the new survey of the members.”
The resolutions represent no change in YMCA policy or plans, Grinnan said.
“It’s safe to say that before we do any physical work that we will work with the volunteers and staff to determine the best way to use that space,” she said. “There never was an imminent threat to the courts. No permits were filed with the city. We’ve not seen any architectural plans.”
Greg Lee, senior membership and marketing director, and Grinnan agreed that the YMCA might seek help from a third party such as SEER, a company with experience in gathering data for nonprofit organizations.