Schenectady

Schenectady YMCA to close this weekend amid omicron surge

The Schenectady YMCA at Center City on State Street Thursday, January 13, 2022.
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The Schenectady YMCA at Center City on State Street Thursday, January 13, 2022.

SCHENECTADY — Following weeks of declining use brought on by a surging pandemic, the Schenectady YMCA on Thursday announced it would temporarily close its doors beginning this weekend. 

A decision to close the State Street facility has been in the works since last month, when the number of people passing through the wellness center each day dropped to between 30 and 40 due to concerns over the rapidly spreading omicron variant, according to David Brown, president and CEO of the Capital District YMCA, which includes nearly a dozen Y’s throughout the region, including Schenectady.

“We really didn’t start thinking about this until mid-December,” he said. “With the spike in omicron, we’re just seeing low-usage. Our resources are spread really thin across the organization, so we really need to take a step back and reevaluate things in the spring.”

Brown said the closure applies only to the wellness center, which he expects to reopen sometime in the spring. After-school programs administered by the Y will not be affected and members can utilize other YMCA’s throughout the region until the center reopens. The 11 employees tasked with overseeing the daily operations of the facility will keep their jobs, but they will have to work at different locations.

The Schenectady Y has seen low-usage in the months following its reopening last August, when an average of 50 to 60 people visited the facility daily — a fraction of the 200 or more daily visitors prior to the pandemic.

“The numbers just never went up,” Brown said.

Support needed

The Schenectady Y closing its doors is the latest blow to an organization hit hard by the pandemic.

Membership units at the Capital District YMCA have dropped by 50% since January 2020 — from 38,000 to 16,500. The number of employees has also decreased by more than 1,000 and efforts to recruit new workers have been met with varying results.

Branches in Duanesburg and Troy have yet to reopen nearly two years after the state ordered all gym facilities and other non-essential businesses closed at the onset of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the organization’s annual operating budget has dropped from $42 million to $22 million, Brown said.

A $5 million loan from the Paycheck Protection Program helped temporarily, but has ultimately been depleted, Brown said.

He added that he believes the YMCA will continue to exist going forward, but not without the support of members.

The organization is currently hosting a fundraiser and hosting a special promotion in an attempt to bolster enrollment.

“We’re hoping that we can get people back inside their YMCA and back into the programs that we always offered,” he said.

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold. 

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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