CORONAVIRUS

Mercy Health Plaza YMCA location ceases operation due to coronavirus losses

Particpants work out at the Mercy Health Plaza YMCA in Cedar Rapids in 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Particpants work out at the Mercy Health Plaza YMCA in Cedar Rapids in 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hurt businesses, the YMCA of the Cedar Rapids Metro Area announced Monday it is closing its Mercy Health Plaza location.

The location opened in 2013, a news release stated, and served almost 1,400 people every year through a partnership with Mercy Health. The closure will free up resources that can be allocated to branches that are better sustained by membership fees, YMCA of the Cedar Rapids Metro Area President and CEO Bob Carlson said.

The Mercy Health Plaza location isn’t owned by the YMCA, Carlson said, and it’s a smaller operation, so the organization decided to pull back resources.

The Cedar Rapids Metropolitan YMCA Association collaborated with Mercy Health on this decision.

“Our board has to look very closely at finances and making sure we have the resources to carry on the YMCA operation,” Carlson said.

There are four other YMCA locations in the area, with the Helen G. Nassif, Marion and Stony Point facilities open with limited hours and capacities. The Marion Independent Fitness Center, which is housed in the Marion Independent School District building, is currently closed, with the school district determining its hours.

Carlson said a majority of the organization’s part-time workers have been furloughed during the pandemic, with some returning to work as buildings have reopened, while full-time staff have been able to receive paychecks through the Paycheck Protection Program.

He said the overall plan is to offer Mercy Health Plaza location employees positions at different branches as they continue to reopen.

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A vast majority of YMCA programming has been canceled since March and more than $1 million in revenue has been lost from summer program Camp Wapsie alone, the news release stated. That, and losses from memberships, will take years to recover, Carlson said.

“We are in a very tough financial position,” Carlson said.

The regional YMCA facility being built in Marion still is on schedule Carlson said, and is set to open in late December or in early January of 2021.

As construction has been funded by grants, donations and fundraising, the project hasn’t been stalled by the organization’s financial situation.

Right now the YMCA of the Cedar Rapids Metro Area is focusing on its larger, more successful hubs that bring in more members, such as the Marion and downtown Cedar Rapids locations. Making sure these locations are successful will help the organization become healthier financially as the pandemic continues.

“We’ve been here 155 years in the community, and we want to keep that moving forward,” Carlson said.

Comments: (319) 398-8371; brooklyn.draisey@thegazette.com

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