The Lynden YMCA Program Center has been closed for the coronavirus since March 17. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

100 Drayton St. may not reopen in Phase 3 as was planned

LYNDEN ­— Due to COVID-19 financial impacts, the Lynden YMCA facility may stay closed even when Phase 3 of reopening comes. The plan had been to reopen then.

Bill Ziels, CEO of the countywide Whatcom Family YMCA, gave Lynden members the news by email Friday, saying the organization faces a “very significant financial challenge” of more than a $2.5 million revenue deficit. “We are fighting to remain fiscally viable,” Ziels said.
Whatcom Family YMCA provides recreation-based programing in a city-owned building at 100 Drayton St.
The Lynden YMCA Program Center has operated at a loss for years, Ziels said. But now the loss is greater than the whole system can absorb. “We will need to find a solution to this shortfall before we can consider reopening.”
Working with city leaders is one of the first steps.
Mayor Scott Korthuis said he is committed to keeping the Lynden facility operating, ideally still with the YMCA but otherwise with some other service provider.
For now, the city is asking for more detailed financial information to try to get to the root of what can be profitable for the Y at the Lynden facility and what is not.
Korthuis noted that the center’s pool is the only one in the north county, used for both boys and girls swim teams of the Lynden School District as well as for popular classes for all ages. 
Lynden needs to figure out a way with the YMCA or another outside vendor to run programs, as providing these services is not something the city wants to take on in its own budget, Korthuis said.
The 40-year-old building has a gym, two racquetball courts, and weights and exercise areas beside the pool, which was significantly reconditioned at the expense of both the city and the YMCA last summer.
In the coronavirus closure since March 17, many members have quit paying dues, adding to the problem.
Lynden memberships have been placed on hold. When the Bellingham YMCA is able to reopen in Phase 3 of the state’s phased plan — likely not until July — Lynden members may use Bellingham free of charge for up to three months.
Ziels says the Y will work with the city toward a solution in order to continue to serve the Lynden area, but it will not be easy. “We want to exhaust all options before we determine that we simply cannot operate the facility,” he said.