The locations closed March 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and statewide shutdown, and have not since re-opened.
According to a statement from Chief Operating Officer Greg Waibel, 2020 started off strong for the organization, but the pandemic has hit hard with many financial and organization struggles. As a result, the YMCA locations in Downtown St. Paul, Prior Lake, and Lino Lakes "will be transitioning away from fitness and wellbeing (sic) centers and will be re-imagined as community response hubs."
Waibel said food distribution continues at these locations.
"Anyone can could come and get meals free – members and non-members, no questions asked,' he said.
"We are providing the current members of these locations options to continue their wellbeing and fitness journeys at other nearby Y locations," including Forest Lake, the statement read.
The Lino Lakes YMCA opened in 2007.
Here is an e-mail to YMCA members last week:
"We recognize that this change to the Lino Lakes Y affects your Y membership. We hope that you will keep your YMCA membership and select a new home fitness and wellbeing center at a nearby Y such as Forest Lake, Shoreview, or Emma B. Howe in Coon Rapids, or any of the locations listed here that are most convenient for you. Once you choose your new home site, we will provide you with a free month of membership. As always if you choose to cancel, put on hold or donate your membership fees, those options are available. Please go to this link to choose what works best for you and to let us know if you have any questions. If we don’t hear from you within 30 days, we will automatically put your membership on hold."
The city of Lino Lakes owns the land the YMCA is located on, off Town Center Parkway next door to City Hall. As part of the agreement, the city is guaranteed a fitness center for its investment. The proposed amount the city will spend in 2021 (still not finalized) is more than $300,000.
City Administrator Sarah Cotton said the city initially invested $2.4 million in the construction of the facility, and provided the utility and road infrastructure with the understanding that there would be a fitness facility on that site. She said if there's no longer a fitness center on that site, the land would revert back to the city for use.
"We are disappointed," said Cotton. "The residents of Lino Lakes are disappointed, and they're expressing their concern about losing that amenity."
Cotton said the city continues to consider its options and hopes the dialogue will include the Y managment moving forward.
"Especially given the pandemic environment, it's not only the physical well-being that a recreational facility can provide, but it's also some of the emotional and mental (well-being)," said Cotton. "This is a stressful time for people and I think those recreational opportunities--those benefits speak for themselves."
"COVID-19 has had a major impact on the YMCA and specifically, our Lino Lakes location," said Waibel. "Understanding that we have a reduced member base, we are in the process of developing a sustainable business plan through a re-imagine process, that will allow us to meet the needs of the Lino Lakes community. The City of Lino Lakes is aware and will be working with us to resolve."
Anoka County Director of Community and Government Relations Karen Skepper said the county initially provided $150,000 in the form of a Community Block Grant to the Y when it opened, and it was not required to be repaid. She said the condition was that the Y had to develop programs and offer jobs to benefit low-income groups.