Freedom Valley Y Leaders Say Merger Opponents are Race-Baiting

An e-mail from the Freedom Valley YMCA's management criticizes a flyer sent to members yesterday.

Freedom Valley YMCA members received an e-mail from the organization late Wednesday afternoon, November 14, regarding a flyer that was reportedly left at the Phoenixville YMCA's information desk listing seven reasons to vote against the merger with the Philadelphia YMCA. 

"Not one of the issues addressed in the flyer was factually accurate," the e-mail reads. YMCA leaders have repeatedly asserted that there is a "lot of misinformation" being disseminated regarding the merger.

[Editor's note: A copy of the e-mail from the YMCA can be read in the PDF section of this article.]

The e-mail goes on, however, to sharply criticize the language in the flyer. 

The e-mail reads, "An example of the type of vitriol that is now being strewn follows – and this is a direct quote from the flyer: 

'Do you think it's possible under the proposed merger for a couple bus loads of inner-city Y members to trek out to OUR Y to enjoy the beautiful pools on a hot summer day? Or overrun our playgrounds? It will be if you allow this merger. So get in line because the crowds are coming. We have great facilities, but they will soon be at risk to over-use, crowding, damage, depreciation, and possibly vandalism.'"

The e-mail continues: "More offensive than the falsehood, however, is the not too subtle racial overtone in the message. The author suggests in the flyer that a merger with Main Line Y would be fine... but not with center city Philly."

The e-mail says that the bigotry displayed in the flyer is "anathema to everything for which the YMCA stands, and should cause any member to take umbrage that this is the type of scare tactic being adopted by some of those opposed to the merger."

"This is what happens when there are no valid arguments to support one's position," the e-mail contends. 

A vote on the merger is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday night, Nov. 15, at Chadwick's Restaurant, 2750 Egypt Road in Audubon. According to information presented at a town hall on Monday evening, Freedom Valley YMCA members who wish to vote must attend the meeting. 

Both sides, Freedom Valley and Philadelphia, have to agree on the merger for it to happen. 

Tom November 17, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Paul there were almost 1000 members who voted last night. the vote count was audited by an accounting firm and witnessed by members who were against the merger. There was no attempt to railroad anything. Even members who voted against the merger were impressed by the voting process. it took almost 3 hours for members to vote by ballot. Yes in the past there were some voting issues wear a hand vote was used because of the almost unanimous support for previous decisions of the board.
oneofthegoodguys November 17, 2012 at 03:54 AM
For those of u with little info about the merger and wonder where the racial undertones came from...most opposition was generated and fueled by a group of women from the spring valley branch. Fueled mostly by Susan touhey pytel they commented "they would be allowed to use our pools and stellar facilities" and "would allow camps to be bussed in when we pay qualifying rates". I am proud of my fellow yes voters. The people have spoken. If you are unhappy...feel your pools are "at risk"...or are simply unable to play nice in the sandbox....by all means join a country club or install a personal pool in your back yard.
Royersfordmomwhocares November 17, 2012 at 04:18 AM
I needed to respond, being that I grew up in the "thieving" "vandalizing" prone city the flyer seems to allude to, two things 1st, I live up here now, raising my kids & I'm white. I'm offended by the wording of the flyer, which in a not so subtle way, makes it sound like those of us from the city (which is home to much of my family) will come up here & ruin your suburbantopia, a place where it's all rainbows & butterflies, mini vans & play dates. I'm a transplant here from the city, so I've witnessed & lived, both sides of the coin. Do I know the city has it's issues, high crime rate etc..of course, who doesn't, just watch the news but there are issues EVERYWHERE, some just take different forms. But seriously, the flyer wording, made it sound like a crime spree apocalypse was going to occur with this merger..it's absurd.The fact is, the Y was started to help people, bring people together, some should start remembering that. The Y here, is a country club without the golf, so it's easy to lose sight of why the Y was started, it's about community, yes, but also helping, giving, not just spinning classes and poolside gossip. oh, and for those so outraged that the wording of the flyer is being compared to a form of bigotry...please, let's all be honest here, the wording is just what it is...a subtle way to scare people that "those city hooligans" are going to come in droves, by buses & take over.."dirtying up the place." Those with any common sense can read between the lines
Wkdwtch November 17, 2012 at 09:47 AM
Hey one of the goodofthegoodguys to imply Susan was racially motivated is downright slanderous and by using quotation marks you make it seem as if she said those things directly, did she? Also where is race mentioned in either of those comments??????? I know her very well and I think I outlined her reasoning quite well in my previous comment....I don't think almost 500 "no" votes were "fueled by a group of women" making comments with racial undertones as you imply. If you have ever visited our pool in the summer you would know that a very real concern for people would be Y summer camps bussing children of ALL races in to use the pool facility because of OVERCROWDING. I know we have been assured that this won't happen but again although many board members have contributed and said the information was available, the fear of CHANGE that people felt as a result of this merger was not handled well by upper mgmt at the Y. The portrayal of the people at the SPRING VALLEY Y as being snobby suburbanites who do not want their pool used by people of other ethnicities is just false and to accuse Susan or her "group of women" of being racist in any way is extremely offensive.
Paula Goff November 17, 2012 at 04:36 PM
There are certainly many valid reasons for concern about the merger. Freedom Valley's leaders and other supporters are not saying all of the opposition is based on racial fears, just the creepy brochure and its coded language. The brochure and its mentality brings to mind the 2009 incident in which the Valley Club in Huntington Valley revoked its agreement with a North Philadelphia day camp for campers to swim there once a week after the children were subjected to racist and insensitive remarks in their first outing. Yes, those kids were bused in, too. And what happened to the club? The backlash and financial settlement caused it to file for bankruptcy and close. As a white suburban woman who worked in the cultural mixing bowl of Center City for many years, I find it comforting and a source of pride to look around the Spring Valley Y and see women, men, boys & girls of so many races, ethnicities, ages, and levels of abilities being welcomed. It is the most diverse and inclusive institution I've seen in the 'burbs. I'm bettiong that most members feel that way, too, despite the brocure's transparent wording and the defensive cries that anyone who sees it as racist is overreacting.


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