SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - More than 1,200 people came out to Wednesday night’s community meeting at the YMCA at Potter Park, scrambling to save this Y and the one on South Euclid Avenue.
Their doors are set to close for good because of financial issues. Sarasota Y member Stephanie Garcia and her four kids came out to show their support.
“We were given a little bit over one month to try and solve this when this problem has been going on sounds like for a few years," said Garcia. “Why wasn’t the community aware of this problem sooner so we can take proactive measures?”
The Y’s CEO Steve Bourne listened to the crowd and addressed them saying it’ll take millions of dollars to save both Ys. There’s also talk about finding a way to push the closing back to give it more time.
“We’re hoping that people will leave tonight with a message that we will save this Y,” said Lucia Barrett, Co-Founder of the Save Our Y Committee.
Political figures were on hand also, including State Senator Joe Gruters and Sarasota County Commissioner Christian Ziegler. They say those responsible for this mess need to be held accountable.
“Everybody should be outraged because how did we get to this point? How did we accumulate this debt of what I heard today 5 million dollars?" questioned Gruters. "Certainly there’s a combination of a lack of oversight from the board and management failures.”
More than 340 people will lose their jobs. Those on hand say despite the frustration of how this has been handled, they will do everything they can to keep the doors of the Y open.
“The YMCA is the best, we are a community and we need to save our Y,” Dr. Patricia Brunetti, a member of the Y.
“It’s a community space where people can come to feel welcome, the staff is always very pleasant to us and we’ve made a lot of friends through the Y,” said Jane Archer, a member.
A solution will need to be found be September 13th, the date both Ys will officially close.
“It’s just mismanagement, we got to clean up the act,” said Jean Samie, a member.
"There’s so much money in this town, you can still keep the Y open,” said Robert Kaplan, a State Senate candidate.
The Sarasota YMCA’s Interim President and CEO did not comment. A Y Board Member also declined to comment.