AFTER SUGGESTING THAT the mayor step in to resolve a bitter community conflict over the closing of the Anthony Bowen Y in Shaw, we had hoped that the result--a sensible package of plans put together by mediator Sterling Tucker-- would have won full acceptance by the YMCA Board. But instead of acknowledging the critical importance of this entire plan, the Y Board is now balking on an essential provision: that the Y maintain a facility at the Bowen site. That doesn't and shouldn't work. No Bowen Y, no deal.
The deal can and should work: it called for the city to take title to the Bowen building and to preserve it as a historic landmark; for the Y to operate a satellite facility on the site it owns next to the Bowen building; and for the Y to get another site-- perhaps at Georgia and Missouri Avenues NW--for a modern, full-service facility. That should appeal to everyone--but the Y board has deferred on a commitment to build in Shaw, calling instead for a "feasibility" study of the Shaw proposal while agreeing to the land swap for the larger facility.
This approach may be businesslike, but it is exactly what kicked off the furor in the first place. Shaw may not be "profitable" as a place for the Y, but most people in the city would like to believe that the Y doesn't pick its neighborhoods the way a business might. There are young people in Shaw who need, have used and would use a recreational facility in their neighborhood--not uptown or elsewhere. The proposal calls for a satellite facility, not a full-service headquarters, which would be built on the other land that the Y would be given.
We believe the Barry-Tucker plan is attractive enough and important enough to produce the contributions of people and businesses all over town who believe in the fundamental objectives that the Y professes to pursue here and around the country--namely service to young people. That is why the Y board should not spoil this important plan by picking it apart.