Gyms Sue to Stop McIntire YMCA

Three local gyms have filed a lawsuit against the city and the county, CBS-19 reports. They accuse the two municipalities of providing a contract to the Young Men’s Christian Association for their planned McIntire Park facility without going through a bidding process, thus unlawfully permitting ACAC, Gold’s Gym, and Total Performance Sports & Fitness from having the opportunity to get the contract themselves. Charlottesville and Albemarle are giving the YMCA $3M and giving them the land, in exchange for which high school swim teams can use the facility and the YMCA agrees to provide reduced rates for some members. CBS-19 doesn’t say what sort of relief that the gyms are seeking in their lawsuit—perhaps nothing more than the stated open bidding process—but with the well-heeled ACAC owner Phil Wendell behind this, these gyms may give Charlottesville and Albemarle a run for their money.

45 Responses to “Gyms Sue to Stop McIntire YMCA”


  • While I can’t speak to the legalities of whether this should have been an open bidding situation (since the Y will be used for much more than just a pool), I DO know that none of the ‘Health Clubs’ involved in the lawsuit has a legal length (25yd.) indoor pool. Seems to me that they have no legal standing, since they have nothing to offer the city/county in the way of an effective practice facility.

  • So how long are the pools that ACAC has in their downtown and Seminole Square buildings? I was always under the impression that they’re 25-yarders.

    And, oh, by the way… more comprehensive version of this story on 29 rather than 19.

  • While I can’t speak to the legalities of whether this should have been an open bidding situation (since the Y will be used for much more than just a pool), I DO know that none of the ‘Health Clubs’ involved in the lawsuit has a legal length (25yd.) indoor pool. Seems to me that they have no legal standing, since they have nothing to offer the city/county in the way of an effective practice facility.

    Remind me, how long is the YMCA’s pool? Oh, that’s right—they don’t have one. :) To compare one organization’s imaginary pool to another organization’s real pool doesn’t seem entirely fair, does it?

  • I can see why ACAC has an interest in this but I have no Idea why the other gyms are involved.

  • It was an open bid process any one could have put a bid in.

  • At ACAC Greed is Good

    It’s about greed. Pure and simple. ACAC wants to make as much money as they possibly can even if that means screwing over thousands of residents who could never hope to afford ACAC’s pricey memberships, but who WOULD be able to afford the Y. Shameful.

  • I didn’t realize these other gyms wanted to give my kids free/reduced fee membership or permit there high school teams to use there facilities. Maybe ACAC wants to give me back some money for all of the field hockey sessions my daughter took.

  • I am glad the gyms are asking these questions. The YMCA is a private club. It is not public. So, the city is allowing a private business to build on public land and giving them money to do it. Krueger says that if folks can’t afford it then they will still be allowed to use the facility. But, there are no guidelines for this. It will be up to the YMCA (a private group) to decide which city residents can afford to use the facility on their public land and built with their tax money. How is that fair?

  • I was wondering about the details. As I’ve read more, it wasn’t an entirely ‘open’ bid process. Bids were only accepted from non-profit organizations. This could get interesting.

    I don’t know how much time there was between advertising and the submission deadline, but if the various gyms were really interested I’d think setting up a ‘non-profit’ subsidiary to bid might have been an option. That might have involved too much time though. That model probably would have led to bids that provided more specifics about qualifications for discounted/free use.

    In the end, I doubt the outcome would have changed. Opening up the bidding to for-profit partners or the for-profit organizations bidding as non-profit subsidiaries would have required more specifics in the RFB and the proposals.

  • @city parent. Though the concept of “private” may sound scary, I think that government often does much better allowing a private organization to use their experience and run a more-efficient facility. Especially in terms with the YMCA, who has a proven track record around the country for operating facilities that everyone can afford. I’m sure that they’re not 100% perfect, but we’ll still have all of the same resources for complaining if they get out of line. And private organizations are also usually more responsive to those complaints.

    @Waldo (main post). On a side note, I think it’s a bit odd, Waldo, that you chose to write out the full meaning of an acronym (YMCA) that everybody knows, even when the original meaning hardly applies anymore… as if the “Christians” are taking over. It’s like saying “Barack Hussein Obama” and trying to scare people with his middle name.

  • Private does not “scare” me. I live in the city because I like to use the public libraries, public parks, public schools and public pools. As a city resident and tax payer I do not want a private pool and recreational facility built in McIntire Park. I guess when you say the YMCA has a proven track record you are not counting the ones in Modesto, Bonita Springs, and Mason (to name a few).

  • @Waldo (main post). On a side note, I think it’s a bit odd, Waldo, that you chose to write out the full meaning of an acronym (YMCA) that everybody knows, even when the original meaning hardly applies anymore… as if the “Christians” are taking over. It’s like saying “Barack Hussein Obama” and trying to scare people with his middle name.

    I wasn’t aware that there was a societal fear of Christianity in the United States as with, to use your example, Islam. Since over three quarters of Americans identify as Christian, wouldn’t identifying the YMCA by their full name be a positive attribute? And if, on top of that, “everybody” knows what it stands for, then what’s the problem? Isn’t it possible that you view Christianity as a negative, you’re assuming that others share your view?

    But, now that you’ve raised the topic, I thought I’d look into it. And, yes, it turns out that the YMCA is an explicitly Christian organization. Their mission statement is “to put Christian principles into practice.” (Each YMCA is independent, but they all band together under a common umbrella, or so I gather.) The Carlisle, PA YMCA explains further:

    The actual amount of Christian emphasis differs from Y to Y, reflecting local sentiment. Meetings are likely to start with prayers or a devotional. Some Y buildings have a chapel. Prayer breakfasts are common, sometimes drawing thousands of people.

    There’s an active movement to make YMCAs more Christian—to “light up the ‘C’ in YMCA,” as they put it—with the YMCAs in St. Louis, Portland, and Cincinnati trying to correct what they see as a wrong of the YMCA becoming tolerant and accepting of other faiths and people without a faith.

    So long as a Charlottesville YMCA located on public property doesn’t discriminate on the basis of religion, I couldn’t care less that they’re rooted in Christianity. But I find it troubling that, as a faith-based organization, they have the ability to discriminate on the basis of religion at any time. Well, that’s not actually troubling: it’s the fact that they’ll be on government land for a $1 year and functioning as the school swim teams’ pool that’s a problem for me. If a CHS student wants to swim in a burquini, there’s nothing keeping the YMCA from saying that they don’t allow Muslim outfits. If the YMCA wants to require members to confess their sins to a priest before they’re allowed in the water, they get to do that. That’s not right.

    But, like I said, 75% of Americans are Christian, so I can’t see that this will be a problem for most people. Also, the fact that they can do something legally does not, of course, mean that they will.

  • There are also Young Men’s Hebrew Associations around the country so it makes sense to me to spell it out and I also find it troubling that public money is being used to support a specific religion’s organization. 25% of the U.S. is not Christian. May be lower in C’ville but that doesn’t mean to me that it is okay to seem to endorse one religion over another.

  • I think we’re straying from the main topic here and trying to fight larger never-gonna-be-resolved ‘conceptual’ issues. The fact is that the local swim teams need pool time — hard to get with only Crow Pool now available. The local Y is going to build a much-needed multi-purpose facility, with some — note SOME — financial help from the city. The area gyms mentioned above DO NOT HAVE regulation size indoor pools, which is one of the prime reasons the city and county are chipping in. They’re not doing it for gym space or yoga classes. It’s the pool.

    Curious if all this hubbub would be happening if they’d just built the damn thing out at PVCC like everyone wanted….

  • Swim parent, if that happened there would be screaming throughout the land about an elitist facility not serving the needs of the city residents.
    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  • The Y will be a real asset to CHS. They will esentially have an on site training pool and get priority on the pool usage. They will also have an additional gym space for winter sports.

  • The Y pool will not be “on site.” The CHS students want to keep their home pool, which is Crow. And, Crow could easily be refurbished for MUCH LESS money than the Y is costing the city.

  • The area gyms mentioned above DO NOT HAVE regulation size indoor pools, which is one of the prime reasons the city and county are chipping in. They’re not doing it for gym space or yoga classes. It’s the pool.

    This is worth repeating, apparently: the YMCA does not have a swimming pool at all. You are saying that the YMCA is superior to other facilities, because their non-existent regulation-sized pool is better than other facilities’ non-existent regulation-sized pools. What these gyms are saying is that they, too, should have the opportunity to build a regulation sized indoor pool in McIntire Park. Your insistence that the YMCA is somehow better in this regard doesn’t make any sense.

  • Curious if all this hubbub would be happening if they’d just built the damn thing out at PVCC like everyone wanted….

    Easy answer to that question.

    No people wouldn’t get all that worked up. Because the city wouldn’t be giving up prime parkland in violation of the spirit in which that land was gifted to the City (and don’t try and be clever and bring up the racism issue with regards to the donor- that’s totally different.). At the PVCC location- well hell it’s right next to the interstate- how can anyone get in a fuss about that?

  • Plus on the PVCC side of town the facilities would be closer to the “underprivileged” population that the Y claims they would be serving.

  • The Y will be just accross a wooden bridge from the school. That is pretty much “on site” to me. The Crow facility will most likely renovated for Central office. The Y will be within 1.5 miles to 60% of the City. The remaining population of the City will have the newly built Smith Aquatic facility within walking distance which is scheduled to open in August. The new Smith Center will be nicer than the planned YMCA. Our Parks and Rec department is doing an amazing job. As a “city parent” myself, I welcome having state of the art facilities next to Buford and CHS. These students will have now have access to weight training and conditioning equipment when the weather is not cooperating outside.

  • observant teacher

    Swimming used to be taught at Walker and it was a great program and benefited all public school students, not just the ones who would qualify under Mr. Krueger’s plan. So, now there will be no lap swimming at Smith (next to Buford) and no pool at all next to Walker? And, the CHS swim team will be practicing in a private club and will lose their “home” pool. I guess when the football stadium needs repairs, then they can close that stadium and let the CHS football team practice and play at some other facility. The students at CHS feel slighted by this plan; they are not cheering about it. They tried to share their views and opinions at the city council meeting (before the final vote) and were not allowed to speak.

  • Why does the CHS swim team need a new pool? Do any of the other high schools in the region have their own pool?

    @Observant teacher. I suspect the difference between swimming teams and football (or other field sport) teams is COST. It certainly must cost more to build and operate a pool than it does to put in a field and mow the grass. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m also guessing that swimming must be more expensive per participant than other indoor sports, like basketball. (I leave ice hockey to the side here. I imagine it costs per participant are similar to swimming, due to similar energy costs.)

  • Observant teacher, the Smith pool will have 6 lanes for lap swimming. http://www.charlottesville.org/Index.aspx?page=2328

  • I have followed this story especially in the early stages (“New YMCA in trouble, new Boys & Girls Club likely: Session invites public input but allows none”, July 9, 2007)

    (1) “Why does the CHS swim team need a new pool?”

    The YMCA offered this as a benefit of locating the YMCA in McIntire Park. The regulation pool (25 meters vs. 25 yards) would allow regional competitions and swim meets to be held in Cville.

    (2) “I guess when you say the YMCA has a proven track record you are not counting the ones in Modesto, Bonita Springs, and Mason (to name a few).”

    You’re also not counting Charlottesville, which just can’t seem to support a full-time YMCA facility. The last one was at MACAA on Park St. and closed in the early 1980s. There was one at or near UVA’s Memorial Gym before that. You haven’t heard much YMCA history in Charlottesville because it looks bad.

    (3) “It’s about greed. Pure and simple.”

    YMCA (and all non-profits) are actually for profit. “Non-profit” is a legal term which means not paying taxes on their profits. YMCA is a non-tax paying, for profit, private company that provides recreation while promoting the Christian message.

    My main issue is YMCA is for members only (like ACAC, Gold’s, etc.) With the city pools and facilities, you pay as you go or buy a day pass. The only people who will be allowed at YMCA are those who sign a year-long contract and agree to automatic withdrawals from their bank account, and those who provide their bank statements to prove they financially qualify for the free or reduced membership fee. Nothing is free.

    As a condition of the YMCA receiving so much corporate-government welfare, the YMCA should be required to allow people to pay as they go, pay per visit.

  • As a condition of the YMCA receiving so much corporate-government welfare, the YMCA should be required to allow people to pay as they go, pay per visit.

    I have to agree with Blair on this one.

  • I agree with Waldo and Blair on this one. Charlottesville Tomorrow has additional information: http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/charlottesville_tomorrow_/2010/05/ymca-lawsuit.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed: cvilletomorrow_rss (Charlottesville Tomorrow News Center)&utm_content=Google Reader
    The interesting thing about having the Y on city land is that the city will have no authority over how the Y operates. If the Y discriminates against Muslims, for example, the city can’t tell them to take their building and go somewhere else.
    It also seems that some of the parents think that the Y is going to provide a lot of something for a little bit of nothing. If the Y is successful, which it hasn’t been up until now, the city will be providing them with a great deal of “scholarship” money, that is subsidies. I think some of the parents commenting on this thread like that idea. However, the city will have no say as to how that money is spent. Yep, the city will have to make up for future fund-raising shortfalls of the Y.

  • Thanks, Waldo, for sharing the results of your investigations. I am somewhat puzzled as to why our local Y went to the trouble to change “Christian principles” to “Judeo-Christian.” http://www.piedmontymca.org/index.php Is it aware that there’s a mosque that is being built here in the city to accommodate the regions Muslims?
    The Y in the Park started with Maurice Cox, but it will be onsidered part of Dave Norris’ legacy. I guess Cox can claim the Pavillion (another 40-year private venture).

  • If, as Webster52 states, the city has built a multi lane regulation length pool at Buford, why was this the plan? Why not build the new pool at Crow which is closest to CHS? It’s as if the plan all along was to fix it so that the Y would appear to be helping the city. The Crow pool is regulation and is the home pool for CHS. So, why wouldn’t it make the most sense for the city to refurbish that pool in a building it already owns? Doing so would cost the city less money and also prevent construction in the city park.

  • a voice in the crowd

    “Why does the CHS swim team need a new pool? Do any of the other high schools in the region have their own pool?”

    They don’t need, nor are they looking for, their own pool. Currently all four high school swim teams practice at one pool, Crow. Because of it’s proximity to CHS it is the home pool for the Black Knights.

    There is really no reason to tear down Crow even if the Y pool is built. The repairs needed are not as much as the group of Councilors that rammed this through would have us to believe. Had the city stayed on top of its maintenance schedule of the two indoor pools this would have been a moot point.

    And the fact remains that even if the Y pool is built there are still going to be four high school swim teams trying to practice and hold meets in one pool, though if it is the Y pool, the four schools will be at the mercy of the YMCA leadership.

  • I agree with “a voice in the crowd” except that I would add that is is not just Crow’s proximity to CHS that makes it the home pool for the Black Knights. CHS is the public high school for our city. Crow pool is a public pool. It is only logical that it is the home pool for CHS, though it does help that it is fairly close to the high school!

    If Crow is torn down then the CHS swimmers will not have a home pool. It is true that they don’t need a new pool. And, I also agree that the amount of many needed to refurbish Crow was exaggerated by some councilors in an effort to push the Y deal.

  • There will be another City pool at Buford starting September 2010- Smith will reopen with fantastic new facilities. A city of 40,000 does not need to be in the business of operating 6 pools. With the renovations at Forest Hills and the closing of Crow when Smith reopens the City will see a significant savings in pool operation and maintenance.

  • Who is pushing for this idiotic use of the park then? What groups, which persons? Someone make the political landscape easy for the rest of us to see.

  • If the problem is that the city has too many pools, then why did the councilors decide to build the new pool at Buford instead of at Crow. It would have made more sense to close Smith and renovate Crow since it’s the CHS swim team home pool. How will the students get to Smith every day after school to practice? I guess the savings in pool maintenance will go to purchase another school bus and pay for gas?

  • Buses already go between Buford and CHS so transportation shouldn’t be a problem. When the Y opens CHS will have priority over the county schools on swimm times directly after school as it was written into the contract. Lets see, a brand new pool adjacent to the High school with priority on practice times. That is about as close to a home pool as you can get. All of these millions are being spent for swimming and some parents are still ungrateful. Why don’t you talk to some of the baseball parents that are maintaining fields, fixing batting cages, manning concession stands and cleaning up just so there kids can play. Talk to a Buford football parent about the field they pratice on.

  • There are currently no buses that go from CHS to Buford after school.

    I am all for improving facilities for all sports for Charlottesville public school students. I would much rather my tax money be spent to improve the baseball batting cages and maintaining fields (for all sports) than on subsidizing a private club in a public city park.

  • I would much rather my tax money be spent to improve the baseball batting cages and maintaining fields (for all sports) than on subsidizing a private club in a public city park.

    Without having followed the conversation/thread I would also add to that sentiment-

    “…than on subsidizing a private “RELIGOUS” club in a public city part.”

    YMCA – “Young Men’s Christian Association.”

    The City Shouldn’t be partnering/supporting/enabling a religious organization and on/with city property.

    This is just another example of the City- Staff and Elected Officials, choosing to ignore one liberal value (the Separation of Church and State) in favor of another conflicting liberal value (The Desire to support an organization with a reputation for helping impoverished communities).

    Another example- choosing to allow Habitat for Humanity to destroy a city woodland area to increase their property tax base, and to do so much closer to a natural stream- than would be allowed if the development occurred in the County outside of the city jurisdiction.

  • Oh and…

    “T” is nowhere near “K” on the keyboard so I am flummoxed as to how I managed to make what should be “park” into “part”.

    My bad.

  • Just Bob, what Habitat project is that? I’m not doubting, I just want to know where it is since I was not aware that had happened.

  • The Boss of me Asked:

    Just Bob, what Habitat project is that? I’m not doubting, I just want to know where it is since I was not aware that had happened.

    It’s a new development near Nunley Street

    With the satellite view shows a green space between Baker and Nunley- which is for the most part now gone for Habitat homes. Which they built closer than 100 feet to a creek, and to my understanding (I could be wrong- wouldn’t be the first time and won’t be the last) most of the creeks and rivers in this area are part of the Chesapeake watershed. I don’t know if they kept all of the houses on Nunley or created an additional street, but in person it looks like they backed them up right next to the creek.

    As it is they don’t yet show up in the Google satellite view.

  • Thanks Bob. I’ll go check it out in person.

  • If, as Waldo says, the Y is NOT going to have a pool, why is the pool still a part of the argument? And how did so many people get the impression there was a pool planned? I confess to not being tuned in to all the details of this project, but I’m confused about the pool aspect.

    Just Bob, Habitat has gone over to the dark side, that’s for sure. They basically get a greenlight on any new development, but it’s based on their previous well-deserved stellar reputation. That Habitat no longer exists in Charlottesville. Big time conflict of interest stuff going on with their director being on the planning commission and shaping policy.

  • If, as Waldo says, the Y is NOT going to have a pool, why is the pool still a part of the argument?

    Actually, it is slated to have a pool, but I see how my poor phrasing gave that impression. The point I was trying to make is that it’s not fair to say that the YMCA is better suited for the city’s purposes because they have a regulation-sized pool but (for example) ACAC doesn’t. The YMCA doesn’t have any swimming pool or, in fact, any facility at all right now—they simply have a plan to build a regulation-sized swimming pool, a result of having a contract with the city. If ACAC had a contract with the city then they, too, would have a plan to build a regulation-sized swimming pool.

  • And the letter “C” in ACAC wouldn’t mean “Christian”. :p ;)

  • With justice for all

    “But, like I said, 75% of Americans are Christian, so I can’t see that this will be a problem for most people.”

    Remember that Christians might object to a faith-based organization on public property or “Christian” rules imposed by a YMCA. We’re not all alike. Far from it.

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