NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – Members of the group “Save our Niagara YMCA” rallied outside of City Hall Saturday. They want the Niagara Falls branch to stay at its Portage Road location.
“The YMCA serves as a community center. There’s many different groups that use this building,” Tony Poletti, president of “Save our Niagara YMCA” said. “And they’re all going to be displaced unless somebody stands up.”
People in the community say they want children and the elderly to have a place to go. They feel as though the Niagara Falls Y is like a community.
“I’ve had older friends tell me, ‘I might as well dig my grave now.’ They go to the Y for a couple of hours. They go in the pool, jacuzzi, steam room…and then they go home. That’s there “out” for three or four hours,” Steven Morinello of Niagara Falls said.
A spokeswoman for the Niagara Falls branch says they appreciate the community’s passion for the Y and they’ll continue to serve them, just not at its current location.
Kathy Romanowski said the branch operated at a substantial loss that’s impossible for them to absorb. She also said the Y will replace the current facility with satellite locations and will continue to provide programs and services.
Those against it, say the satellite locations aren’t enough.
“The YMCA is more than just a building,” Elisa Newman-David, vice president of the “Save our Niagara YMCA” said. “It was created for people to go to get off the streets and to be welcomed. When you want to turn your life around, that’s where you go, to the Y.”
The Niagara Falls Y will operate solely out of satellite locations in June. Services and programs will be provided at the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, Lewiston Porter Primary School and Cataract Elementary School.