The officers of the Metropolitan Washington YMCA will recommend to the Y's board of directors that the board approve plans to begin work immediately on a $1 million program center next to the old Anthony Bowen building in Shaw, YMCA President Thomas B. Hargrave said yesterday.
In advising Mayor Marion Barry that they would recommend immediate action be taken at a special meeting on May 13, the YMCA's officers appeared to be reversing a decision made more than a week ago to put off construction pending a feasibility study.
However, Barry was disappointed by the action, a spokesman said, because it represented approval of only a single element of a more comprehensive plan that he wanted approved.
This plan evolved out of Barry's request that former City Council chairman Sterling Tucker draft a proposal to rehabilitate the 73-year-old Bowen building, which the YMCA closed on Feb. 22. The closure set off a bitter controversy among Shaw residents, the YMCA and the Barry administration.
Tucker's plan called on the YMCA to build a satellite facility in Shaw while preparing to restore the Bowen building. The YMCA initially agreed to this. But on March 26, the board deferred judgment pending further study. The latest move appears to reverse the deferral.
A YMCA statement said that Hargrave and other officers requested a meeting with Barry to discuss other aspects of the Tucker plan.
Barry's press spokesman, Annette Samuels, said, "The mayor says that he's disappointed that they took it to the media. And he's disappointed that they didn't adopt the whole Sterling Tucker package. Now they're trying to pick up bits and pieces of it."
D.C. Recreation Department Director William H. Rumsey, who is the only member of the YMCA board of directors who voted against closing the Bowen building, expressed a similar view.
"The Tucker plan is not a smorgasbord from which they can pick and choose," Rumsey said. "It's of a piece and it has to be dealt with as such."
Ruth Dion, vice chairman of the Bowen YMCA committee of management, took exception to Rumsey's complaints and praised Hargrave and the other officers for "putting their money where their mouth is."
Dion said that the building of the satellite facility was the top priority of the Tucker plan. "That's where the money has been identified to be used right away," she said. "The metropolitan YMCA is telling the mayor, 'If this is what you want, we have the money and let's go.' "
Hargrave denied that the decision of the officers to recommend swift action to the board represented a reversal of policy.
"We thought we'd have to do a feasibility study to determine where we could find the funds," he said. "But it's now our feeling that we have in reserve about half the funds we need. Of course we have to plan how to raise the rest in today's tight money market."
Hargrave said he'd had "communications" with Barry in the past week and that what remained was to "sit down with the mayor and discuss whether there's adequate space for the kind of building we have in mind, for parking, that sort of thing."
Among the new facilities envisioned are a gymnasium, a community center and a day-care center intended to counterbalance the spread of unlicensed day-care centers here, Hargrave said.