AFTER MORE THAN a year of intramural squabbling, stalled proposals and squandered time, there are signs of life in and around Washington's historic Anthony Bowen YMCA. No speed records for recovery will be broken, but at least the long-warring factions are wearing smiles; there is a fine schedule of recreational activities in the neighborhood; and officials claim that an honest-to-goodness plan for renovation and use of the boarded-up Bowen building at 1816 12th Street NW will be in Mayor Barry's hands in 60 days or sooner.

Why the plan isn't ready now is beyond us--but if cooler heads are prevailing and kids are back in the neighborhood spotlight, thank goodness for progress, and hold everyone to the deadline. At least the Bowen Y branch has an office--at 1307 W Street NW--and programs running next door; officials report three times as many children and adults enrolled as a year ago, with a staff of four full-time and 11 part-time people. There are sports, special events and activities for young and old.

What next? Mayor Barry should use his good offices to make sure that all parties stick to their promise of cooperation. Otherwise the necessary fund-raising, to be headed by Andy Ockershausen of WMAL and other civic leaders, cannot hope to succeed. The constructive presence of the Y in Shaw, and the preservation of its great history on the Bowen site, are too important to be lost any longer.