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YWCA members split on plan to sell building

The Spokane YWCA is regrouping after members shot down a plan to sell the organization’s building and begin raising money for a new joint campus to be shared with the YMCA.

Though more than 50 percent of the voting members on Tuesday night supported the measure, bylaws required a two-thirds majority. YWCA Executive Director Monica Walters said she planned to put out more information about the plan and will hold another vote within the next six weeks.

Several members who attend morning water exercise classes said they’re concerned about the planned elimination of the swimming pool from the YWCA in the future plan.

“I’ve had four knee surgeries and I probably wouldn’t be walking if it wasn’t for that (pool),” said Helen Prater, who is 80. “I do believe they need to have new facilities because it is deteriorating, but I don’t think it went over very well.”

Other members said they felt they didn’t have enough information to make a decision.

“We’re not saying they’re a bad board,” said Sandra Buckalew, who has been a member for about five years. “We’re saying we want to make an informed vote.”

The YMCA and the YWCA have separate, aging facilities overlooking opposite banks of the Spokane River in the downtown core. The nonprofit organizations would like to sell both buildings to begin a capital campaign with a goal of $25 million. That money would be used to purchase downtown land in an undisclosed location for a joint campus that would allow both organizations to expand services.

Fitness facilities would be provided by the YMCA, which has a full-service gym, while the YWCA would focus more on its social service programs.

Walters said SRM Development of Spokane has offered $4 million for the YWCA property. The 2.25-acre parcel with four buildings at 829 W. Broadway is assessed at $2.8 million, title records show.

Walters said concern about losing the pool has overshadowed the main goal of the expansion plan, which is to offer more and better services to homeless women and children and to victims of domestic violence and abuse, many of whom have nowhere else to turn in Spokane. Aquatic exercise programs, she said, are offered on East Indiana Avenue by the Salvation Army. In addition, the YWCA gave the portion of its United Way funding devoted to aquatic exercise programs to the Salvation Army a few years ago.

“We determined that the expense of doing the warm-water aquatics program wasn’t as key to our mission,” Walters said. “We relinquished United Way support so they could provide that service.”

Walters wants to accept SRM Development’s $4 million offer because it would allow the YWCA time to raise money and build a new building before turning the property over. Both the YMCA and the YWCA management have said there would be no interruption in services as they move toward creating a joint campus. They say the project should take three years.



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