Turner Street YMCA in danger of closing - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Turner Street YMCA in danger of closing

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5)- The YMCA branch on Turner Street has been a staple of the Alexandria community for more than five decades, but now it may soon close it's doors. News Channel 5's Rachael Penton spoke with the staff and the members of the YMCA to find out what they're dealing with and how they're feeling about the possible closure.

Bob Tompkins has been swimming laps every week since 1986 here at the YMCA on Turner Street.

"I'm one of the loyal swimmers here and I really will miss it if it's gone," says Tompkins.

But now the branch is facing difficult financial troubles. It's no longer receiving funding from the United Way.

"The board has been trying to move forward but when you're struggling to breathe it's difficult to focus on your programming and focus on the repairs that are needed in this 50 year old building," says Chief Volunteer Officer Sid McDaniel.

They were also forced to close down the Gamburg Branch in Downtown Alexandria at the end of last year due to increasing utility bills. A new gym opened up in it's place.

"Many of our members stayed there so we lost about 70 percent of our membership," says McDaniel.

Now the doors may soon close for good and members will be without their favorite programs like water aerobics and without their friends.

"The therapeutic value and the social value. It gives them a chance to get out of the house, socialize with people. People in their community who understand some of the problems they're dealing with," says long time member Valerie Clay.

The YMCA is asking for the community's help.

"Maybe the City of Alexandria could help us out. Maybe a large company could make a contribution to help us keep going for a couple more years," adds member Dr. Don Edgerton.

After 50 years of operation time is now ticking away on Turner Street.

"We're going to have to close the doors if the community doesn't come forward," adds McDaniel.  

For a place that the members say is a community within a community.

"I will surely miss it if this closes," says Tompkins.

The YMCA says that they have been trying to grow their membership, but it's been difficult to attract people due to the dire need of repairs. The board estimates the Y needs about $200,000 to move forward in the short term and another $100,000 to make those repairs. If they don't get the money the doors could close as soon as Monday.

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