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Suburban YMCA centers get creative to keep doors open

YMCA facilities in north suburban Vernon Hills and Waukegan have found a way to stay open--at least through the end of the year.

The two Lake County centers were set to shut down at the end of October. Now in Vernon Hills, there is a plan for the YMCA to stay open until the Village Park District to takes over the facilities in January.

And Anne O’Connell from the Lake County YMCA said community support has bought the Waukegan center some time, too.

“In Waukegan we have just announced that we have two more months to try to further develop our financial partners and look at long term sustainability in that community,” O’Connell said. “So it’s good news, all in all.”

Hal Catz is CEO of the Lake County Family YMCA and runs the two facilities in the Chicago suburbs.

He said in October that declining membership and budget shortfalls are to blame for the closures.

"These issues have been plaguing the Y for the last several years," Catz said. "The board has been very much aware of them and taking action in a variety of ways to see if there might be a way to change the direction of the YMCA."

The struggling Lake County YMCA is not alone in the Chicago area this fall.

A YMCA in the northern suburb of Grayslake closed in September.

The Chicago Metro YMCA also closed a facility in the Austin neighborhood this fall in response to declining membership at that location.

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