Dwindling membership causes YMCA in south Phoenix to close - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Dwindling membership causes YMCA in south Phoenix to close

© CBS 5 News © CBS 5 News
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A safe haven for kids in south Phoenix is about to close its doors. The South Mountain YMCA is being sold, and its future remains unclear.

Eric Bowman runs Planet Athlete, a nonprofit that helps middle and high school students with academics and athletics.

"Our mission is to get them an athletic scholarship to go to college so they can take care of themselves and their family in the future," Bowman said.

Right now, Planet Athlete practices at the South Mountain YMCA. But at the end of March, the branch will be sold.

"There's nothing really here in the south Phoenix area for these kids. It's a safe haven for them," said Bowman.

James Daiz with the YMCA says the South Mountain branch had to close due to dwindling membership. A nonprofit is buying the branch and will turn it into a school for at-risk 16- to 24-year-olds.

Diaz said despite the sale, many of the YMCA programs will likely stay. The deal includes only the building and the parking lot. The fields will still be held for YMCA and other community sporting activities, including those with charter and public schools.

"We're also hoping to be able to have access to the gym there as well so we can continue our basketball programs and our volleyball programs," said Diaz.

But Bowman is not counting on it and is not sure if Planet Athlete will survive.

"There's no place to go. We will have to try to find a place, maybe build, try to fundraise to maybe build a facility for the kids," Bowman said.

Diaz said if programs like basketball and volleyball continue in south Phoenix, YMCA staff will supervise.

To clear up any questions about the branch's future, the South Mountain YMCA will host a community forum on Feb. 17 at 4:30 p.m.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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