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Working Out A Plan

YMCA CEO Gives Elected Officials Tour Of Closed Gym

From left, state Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown; Anthony Dolce, Jamestown City Council president; state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay; and Mark Eckendorf, Jamestown Area YMCA CEO; taking a tour of the gym at the Jamestown Area YMCA’s location at 101 Fourth St., Jamestown. Gyms weren’t allowed to reopen during Phase 4 of the New York Forward reopening plan. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

Despite workout equipment being separated by 6 feet, hand sanitizer given to each member and contactless thermometer readings of everyone entering the building, the Jamestown Area YMCA is still not allowed to reopen its gym to members.

On Wednesday, Mark Eckendorf, Jamestown Area YMCA CEO, gave a tour of the Y’s location at 101 Fourth St., Jamestown, to state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, state Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, and Anthony Dolce, Jamestown City Council president, of the redesigned gym areas that has each workout machine 6 feet apart.

Eckendorf told the elected officials about how they redesigned the Jamestown Y location to have workout equipment now inside more rooms so members can practice social distancing while working out. He also said that each member of the YMCA gets their own bottle of hand sanitizer they can use to kill germs. He added that while the YMCA is still allowed to operate other parts of its operation — like child care and swimming pool area — their gym equipment is not allowed to be used. During Phase four of the New York Forward reopening plan, gyms were not allowed to reopen.

Eckendorf said YMCA staff had prepared to reopen the gym during Phase four, which was June 30. He said along with separating the workout machines, Y staff also took precautions to make sure useable lockers are 10 feet apart and that people who use the communal shower would be at least two stations away from anyone else.

“Y’s can’t hold on much longer,” Eckendorf said.

A decal on the floor reminding Jamestown Area YMCA members to stay 6 feet apart. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

Eckendorf said that on Monday, the Lakewood Family YMCA, located at 183 E. Fairmount Ave., Lakewood, will be reopening its tennis, pickleball and racket ball courts, but they’re still not allowed to reopen their gym area.

He said the YMCA’s staff could handle the use of the gym equipment the same way they’re handling members using the pools at the Jamestown location. Members contact the staff to register for a time to use the pool. Also, the Y’s staff has cut down the capacity in the pool to about a quarter of what they were allowing before the pandemic.

Eckendorf said most members have been generous during the pandemic by still paying their dues despite being closed for the most part since the middle of March. He said of 2,500 members, only 108 have canceled their membership while 200 others put their account on hold. He added, last year at this time, the Y had added 400 new members. This year, because of the pandemic, there are no new memberships.

“We want to be safe. We’ve given it a lot of thought,” he said. “We’ve been working for months on a reopening plan.”

Goodell said representatives are lobbying Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office to reopen gyms. He said part of the reopening plan is to allowing local county Health Departments to monitor the reopening of gyms.

Workout equipment separated by 6 feet to allow Jamestown Area YMCA members to practice social distancing. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

Borrello said by not allow gyms to reopen, the governor is hurting one of the main sources of revenue for the YMCA. Also, he said members are negatively being impacted because they’re not allowed to use the workout equipment, which makes them healthier.

“The benefits outweigh the risk,” Borrello said.

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