OF ALL THE BAD surprises: just as a dangerously long and bitter local dispute between members of the YMCA family is ending with a sensible set of plans for the future, along comes a D.C. Council committee with some unhelpful recommendations to tear apart the agreement and harass the Y. In the interests of the Anthony Bowen Y building, the kids in Shaw and the long history of YMCA activities throughout the city, Mayor Barry had best step in once again to put things back on a constructive track.
The council's finance and revenue committee has decided that the D.C. government should reject a plan worked out by mediator Sterling Tucker to swap some city land for the vacant Anthony Bowen Y. Mr. Tucker, acting at Mayor Barry's request, had proposed that the city provide land for a new full- service Y facility, possibly at Georgia and Missouri Avenues NW. In exchange, the city would take title to the Bowen building and preserve it as a historical landmark. In turn--and here's an important provision--the Y would build a satellite facility next to the Bowen building, to continue its commitment to the children of the Shaw neighborhood.
But now comes the council committee with a recommendation that the city apply for a federal grant to help renovate the Bowen building. Why, when federal funds may well be needed for something else, and when this project can move along locally? The committee also considered recommending that the YMCA lose its $750,000 yearly tax exemption on its downtown headquarters--in effect, a threat which, if ever carried out, would mean surefire death to the Y altogether.
Back when the Y factions were still warring, some constructive recommendations from the council might have helped. But then or now, the city would be ill-served by the divisive suggestions of this committee. With the cooperation of the Bowen Y, the YMCA board and any individuals and businesses that can contribute to the success of the Bowen preservation, Mayor Barry should commit the city government to a prompt realization of the compromise so carefully worked out.