Racquetball and Handball players in Chapel Hill & Carrboro (Orange County, North Carolina) must now stop enjoying their sport, or find another location to compete – due to plans recently announced by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA.
Under new Board President Dabney Grinnan, the Y Board enacted a resolution to close the ONLY courts available to the general public throughout Orange County. The resolution, described as an effort to increase the size of the wellness area, comes on the heels of "surveys" done over the last 18-months – flawed surveys that, at the very least, should have included the ENTIRE Y Membership. Furthermore, the Y staff and the Board enacted their purpose to close the Courts without seeking any input from, or even disclosing their plan to Court users.
Worse, when Y members showed up at a Board meeting to hear and observe the Board's discussion of issues they had raised with President Grinnan, those Y Members were excluded from the Board meeting and made to leave the premises.
It is fair to observe from their actions, that the Board and staff intended to exclude Court users from any knowledge of – or participation in – this decision, which was and is vital to their specific reason to maintain a membership at this Y.
Racquetball & Handball players have united to start a groundswell protest. Last January 16th, members of the Board & Y staff met with a group of regular court users, who presented a petition signed by 207 members, to discuss their concerns and request that the Board back away from their decision and review all of the evidence upon which the decision had been made. Unfortunately these requests fell on deaf ears.
In its last regular meeting, the Board met at an undisclosed location and denied entry of Y members who tried to attend. The Board also refused to turn over copies of agenda materials, which were believed to contain a memorandum from the staff recommending that the Board ignore the concerns expressed about Court closures, and proceed as quickly as possible.
The Board's secret determination effectively reduces the amount of facility resources now available for older member users of this YMCA. The Board needs to understand that the actions taken in its name, as well as the determination to proceed with Court closure, are not just ill-considered, but infringe the legal rights of senior users to be free of age-based discrimination – clearly which is prohibited as well by the Y's mission statement and by-laws. YMCAs are required by their national constitution to pay annual dues, to refrain from discrimination, and to support the YMCA mission.
Thus, we petition the Y and its Board of Directors to reconsider and rescind its decision to close the Courts, and to amend the By-Laws, or provide for a vote of the General Membership of the Y to amend the by-laws, so that:
1. Every YMCA member has the right to attend and observe Board meetings, and to petition the Board at its meetings; to make the written records of the Y’s business open to the Y membership;
2. The business of the Board is acknowledged to be the business of the Membership, and not business that may be done in secret or private meetings at unannounced locations, and by secret votes;
3. The essential, principal components and uses of the Y’s physical components, including the pool, the gymnasium, all recreational courts, up to and including the spa facilities, will not be eliminated without consultation with those users – and then, only after approval by a majority vote of all Y members.
A formal letter dated Friday, February 8th, has been delivered to the Y Board requesting a special election to be held on March 29th. It outlines details of the proposed amendments to the By-Laws of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA.
Please show your support and sign this petition to help overturn this decision, and show the YMCA Board members that they have a responsibility to provide a caring environment where members can pursue a healthy and democratic lifestyle.
Recent actions involving Board decisions to close the only local publicly available Racquetball & Handball courts, and to repurpose the facilities by use of closed meetings and secret votes, have prompted considerable attention in local area news. As a result, longtime members of the Y have taken to the streets, picketing in protest, in order to bring attention to the Board’s behavior towards its membership.
It’s apparent the Board has failed to consider the many consequences of its actions - including:
• to what extent the Y's services would be diminished by closing the Courts;
• the impact this decision will have on the Y's legal and moral commitment to a protected class of members – senior citizens, and…;
• most importantly, the voice of its constituency – the collective membership.
I do not believe that the CHCYMCA Board has the authority, without a vote of the membership, to take actions that divest its members of the benefits of ownership and management at the local level. If this is the price that has to be paid to continue this Y's operation, especially without regard to a protected class, this is too high a price. Y members will not tolerate closed meetings and secret votes that eliminate uses valuable to their facility without due notice of intent - and, the involvement of its members.
Board members must recognize and understand their fiduciary duty and act with deliberate speed to amend the By-Laws and give the Y back to its members.