YMCA says Dunbar Center closing is a possibility - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

YMCA says Dunbar Center closing is a possibility

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Thousands of city residents could be affected by the closing of a local community center.

With the Dunbar Center having money problems, the YMCA of Greater Springfield began operations in the building in 2011.

Three years later, YMCA officials said those issues have not been resolved, leaving the possibility of the building being shut down.

"Our commitment, above and beyond, remains to service and support this community," said Kirk Smith, president and chief executive officer of the group.

Smith told CBS 3 that Dunbar, Inc., owed around $1 million on their mortgage and now Republic Financial is preparing to auction off the building.

"Whoever the purchaser may be, I think it would be important that they had some interest in keeping us here," said Smith.

But that is not a guarantee, which could leave the 3,500 residents that use the facility looking for some place else to go.

Smith said for the Mason Square neighborhood, that could be problematic.

"If this goes away, it's not like crime in this community doesn't exist," Smith stated. "We all know that to be true. You start putting people out in the streets and running around, you're going to put them right in the midst of this."

Tracey Thomas is a health and wellness instructor at the Dunbar Center, who began going to the building nearly 40 years ago for dance classes.

Thomas agreed that Mason Square would not benefit from the center closing.

"It would be a lot dysfunction," said Thomas. "We have a lot of youth off the streets and that's mainly what's important. This community is in a lot of trouble right now. This is not the time to take something like this away."

Smith said the building auction will likely happen by September.

Should the YMCA have to leave the building, he said there is a Plan B.

"We'll have to spread the programs out, probably two to three different places in Mason Square," said Smith. "The risk there is the family centerpiece, because there's not many places within Mason Square that have a fitness center like we have here or a basketball gymnasium."

Smith said several attempts to purchase the mortgage at a reduced rate have failed.

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