The YMCA of Metropolitan Washington announced yesterday that it will open a temporary facility at 1307 W St. NW next week in the wake of the closing of the Shaw area's Anthony Bowen branch.
But members of the Anthony Bowen committee of management, which is seeking to have the now-closed facility at 1816 12th St. NW reopened, criticized YMCA administrators for leasing a temporary facility instead of starting renovation work on the old Anthony Bowen building.
Henry A. Bagelmann, the YMCA's vice president, said the temporary site will house a youth drop-in center and senior citizen program as well as any other former Bowen programs that do not require gymnasium facilities.
Youths who used the Bowen branch currently are using the basketball and swimming facilities at the new $5.3 million YMCA branch at 17th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW.
Bagelmann said he felt the YMCA board had engaged in "a fair amount of discussion" with the management committee over the selection of the W Street site, although he said he was not sure each committee member knew exactly where the site is or what it will be used for.
He said YMCA officials had "worked very hard to find a proper place" for the temporary site that would not be far from the Bowen building. He said he did not know exactly how much it would cost to renovate the W Street site, which formerly served as the offices for Carlton's Mechanical Contractors, but estimated that it would be "a couple of thousand dollars."
The YMCA has a one-year lease on the W Street Building. It could not be determined last night how much rent is being paid.
Bowen committee chairman William H. Rumsey and four other committee members said they had not been consulted about the selection of the temporary facility. "You'd think if they were going to open a facility, they would do it, plan it, with the committee and the community," Rumsey said. He said he also was concerned about the proximity of the temporary facility to the 14th Street drug corridor.
"I don't see why they're taking money to renovate that place on W Street when they could be using that money to renovate Anthony Bowen," O'Bryant said.
Rumsey said he was upset that the YMCA had sent out a copy of a memo this week that gave the impression that he and Hargrave had made peace over the Bowen issue and that he supported the temporary facility at W Street, when he knew nothing of the YMCA's plans for that facility.
That memorandum to the Bowen management committe and to volunteers in the YMCA's Partner with Youth program urged support for this year's Partner with Youth campaign. The memo, signed by Hargrave and Rumsey, noted that "there are differences of opinion that still must be resolved," and added later: "We have pledged to work together to achieve the goal of building a new Anthony Bowen branch in the near future and at the same time continue to serve the Shaw area."
The YMCA decided to close Anthony Bowen last month, saying that the 73-year-old building, the first black YMCA in the country, had become a safety hazard and a fire trap. It is one of two inner-city YMCAs in the city available to youths at low costs. No site has yet been selected for a new Anthony Bowen facility.