Dear Answer Man, I'd like to know more about the Twin Cities YMCA's new "relationship" with the Rochester Y. Did the Twin Cities Y basically take over the Rochester organization, including take ownership of its assets?

Yes, it did.

One of my most dogged research associates contacted Ann Beatty, the Y's board chairwoman, this morning, and she confirmed what members heard Wednesday at the fateful membership meeting — that the local Y was in big trouble.

"We were in financial distress," Beatty said, and according to my sources, members were told the Y would have to close by year-end if nothing changed. One source told me the Y would run out of money by the end of the year; it was losing $10,000 per month and had only $200,000 in reserves.

Ann didn't disavow those numbers, though she complimented me on my sources.

So the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities offered to take over, and as of today, it owns the assets and liabilities of the local organization lock, stock and barrel. There has been "officially a transfer of assets" as well as mortgage and liabilities, Ann said. "All of the property now falls to ownership and management of the Twin Cities" organization.

I'm told one part of the financial woes at the Y was the water park added to the building some years ago, which has left a big financial obligation. Apparently the aging facility, which was built in 1964, needs about $3 million in improvements to bring it up to speed and make it competitive in a city that has top-quality facilities such as the Rochester Athletic Club and Mayo's Dan Abraham Health Living Center.

Ann confirmed the $3 million figure but said that was from an internal review and not necessarily what the Twin Cities organization will be plowing into it.

That said, the Twin Cities Y already was laying new carpet Thursday and has begun gussying up the facility at 701 First Ave. SW. New equipment has been ordered, and new swim programs and family and youth camps will be offered "as soon as we can get staff trained and up and running," Ann said.

Among the local Y's problems in recent years: Its membership has fallen from a peak of about 5,000 to a current roster of about 1,300 full-paid members. Of those, about 175 turned up for the meeting in the grand Elizabethan Room at the Kahler Hotel, and the vote was 166-11 in favor of the Twin Cities takeover.

That would seem to indicate few mixed feelings about the deal. In Ann's case, she said, "I came the full circle of thinking" and initially was reluctant to take this drastic step. In the end, she decided it was best for the organization and best for the community.
"Our community needs the mission of the Y so much more today than ever before," she said. "I would do anything to keep this mission alive for the community," and obviously the membership agreed.

One factoid that I've heard and Ann said is best left to attorneys is that the agreement with the Twin Cities Y can be revisited down the road, possibly at the end of a seven-year term. She declined comment but referred to "a technicality about the contract."