Changes at the Y rile some members

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One member has petition with 82 signatures against hot tub closure

By Carol A. Clark

A decision in the making for several years caught a few members off guard when they realized the hot tub and sauna at the Y are being removed.

It’s got them steamed.

“We feel that there hasn’t been sufficient communication with the many Y members who regularly use the hot tub and steam room facilities about the plan to remove them,” said member Lynn Wysocki-Smith during a meeting with Y board and staff Wednesday.

She told Y officials she had a petition containing the signatures of 82 members “vehemently” against removal of the steam room and hot tub.

“We feel that there are many other options that have not been fully explored,” Wysocki-Smith said.

Chris Ortega chaired the Y board when plans were presented and the decision made about the spa area four years ago.

He said other options were researched and found unfeasible.

In a flurry of e-mails between several Y members, it became clear they had the impression that more office space was driving the spa area closure.

Y Board Chair Matt Schmidt said that isn’t true. Driving the closure are low usage and high replacement cost, he said.

“It wasn’t ‘the board needs office space,’ it was, ‘this is a sunken drain on the Y,’” Schmidt said. “The condition of the hot tub is unsustainable and must be replaced, which will cost about $40,000.”

Roger Waterman, a longtime board member whose father was important in founding the Los Alamos Family YMCA 60 years ago described the issue as “utilization versus cost.”

“Every Y in the country is faced with these same issues…they are closing down their pools all over the country and getting rid of their racquetball courts,” Waterman said.

While the hot tub won’t be replaced, wet/dry sauna units will be installed in the women’s and men’s locker rooms. An air conditioning system bought through salvage will be installed at the facility.

The Y will use the empty spa area to pull in field offices from an annex at 15th Street and Trinity Drive, which costs $1,100 a month in rent plus utilities.

Those offices became necessary with the closure of Canyoncito School.

CEO/Executive Director Linda Daly of the Y said it has made other major changes in its past including converting two squash courts for multipurpose programs. About 25 years ago the Y sold its adjacent property, now housing the Iris Street Condominiums, in an effort to stay solvent during an economic rough patch.

Daly said her staff is going to look at what more can be done to get the word out to members about major decisions.