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Article posted: 9/28/2012 8:57 PM

YMCA sites in Vernon Hills, Waukegan to close Oct. 31

Sites in Waukegan, Vernon Hills are shutting down

By Russell Lissau Bob Susnjara

Just months after celebrating its centennial, the Lake County Family YMCA will close its two facilities next month because of financial problems, officials announced Friday.

The Vernon Hills and Waukegan centers will essentially shut their doors Oct. 31. Childcare programs at both facilities will remain operational until Nov. 21 to give parents more time to find replacement services.

YMCA officials told employees about the pending closures Friday morning, said Anne O'Connell, the group's vice president of marketing and communications. Patrons are being told personally, through social media and via email, O'Connell said.

"It's rough news," she said.

When asked how the YMCA's 132 full- and part-time employees took the announcement, O'Connell called them "very passionate and very loyal."

Melinda Agosto, the Vernon Hills YMCA's assistant child care director, was among the employees who got the bad news during a staff meeting with the board of directors.

Telling the teachers was particularly difficult, she said.

"And telling the parents has been even harder," said Agosto, who's worked at the center for four years.

The Vernon Hills YMCA opened at 700 Lakeview Parkway in 2001.

The Waukegan facility at 2000 Western Ave. opened in 1987. The organization's first center opened at a different site in Waukegan in July 1912.

Internal Revenue Service documents filed in 2011 and 2010 offer a look into the finances at what's officially listed as Lake County Family Young Men's Christian Association.

Nonprofit documents filed with the IRS show wide gaps between revenue and expenditures, as well as declining net assets or fund balances.

IRS papers from 2011 show about $5.8 million in total revenue and $6.9 million in expenses. The 2011 net assets, or fund balances, were $3.1 million.

In 2010, the Lake County Family YMCA reported to the IRS that it had $5.4 million in total revenue and $6.5 million in expenditures. Net assets were $5.4 million in 2010.

The closures will leave the independently owned and operated YMCA facilities in Lake Zurich and Lindenhurst as the last ones in the county.

Officials said in Friday's announcement that members at the facilities closing in Vernon Hills and Waukegan may transfer at no cost to the YMCAs in Lindenhurst and Lake Zurich, as well as operations in Northbrook and Kenosha, Wis.

Most YMCA patrons have monthly memberships, O'Connell said. The organization will try to refund payments to anyone with a yearlong membership, she said.

Mundelein resident Ken Alberts has been a member at the Vernon Hills YMCA since it opened. He was stunned to learn the center is closing.

Alberts said he'll consider joining the Lake Zurich YMCA or working out at the Mundelein Park District's facility on Midlothian Road.

He's more concerned about losing the friends he's made at the YMCA than where he'll swim or lift weights, however.

"The thing is, you could go to another facility, but I want to bring all these friends with me," Alberts said.

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