David Brown Hates Swimming Pools

March 25, 2010

In the name of profit the CEO of the Capital District YMCA is waging war against the City of Albany

* * UPDATE * *: Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings has announced that He wants to take over the Washington Avenue building from David Brown, who appears to be going along with Jerry’s idea to salvage his PR disaster. We’ll see how that goes.

David Brown, the President and CEO of the Capital District Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) has big plans. He wants to update his organization’s sport and exercise facilities and provide them with more parking spaces. And he has repeatedly stated that he wants, more that anything else, to enhance the Y’s bottom line.

Unfortunately, the Guilderland resident wants to do what suburbanites are always trying to do. Last December 20 he announced to the media that he has joined the crowd of speculators and interlopers who hate our urban community. He declared that he wants to demolish the downtown Albany YMCA building on Washington Avenue and replace it with a parking lot, or a parking garage.

Oh, and he added that someday he’d like to put a pared down little YMCA next to the parking lot, something a lot like those storefront exercise facilities for office workers. Yes, he wants to suburbanize Albany and turn the Capital District YMCA into a clone of Curves or Gold’s. But it appears that he has a second personal agenda. He wants to eliminate the YMCA’s swimming pools as much as he can.

Albany YMCA Building On Washington Avenue Albany YMCA Building On Washington Avenue

Brown’s proclamation came on the heels of the Fort Orange Club Republicans who want to tear down a perfectly good, upscale ready for immediate occupation brick building built in 1855 located a short walk down Washington Avenue. Yes, they want to turn it into a parking lot. That’s all suburbanites ever want to do, tear down our City and replace it with parking lots.

The problem with these suburbanites is that they think that buildings are disposable, like coffee cups, plastic bags or immigrant workers. They are incapable of seeing the difference between a 150 year old brick building that helps define an urban streetscape, and a worthless cinder block strip mall squatting in the middle of a parking lot.

Admittedly the Washington Avenue YMCA building is ugly as sin, typical mid 20th century lousy architecture. Ideally the Y building ought to be replaced with one that is attractive and energy efficient, or at least the present building should be upgraded to a minimum standard. But that doesn’t mean Brown has a right to waltz into our City and tell us that we would be better off with fewer buildings and more parking lots. Who the hell does he think he is?

Albany YMCA Closure Protest, March 16, 2010 Albany YMCA Closure Protest, March 16, 2010

As if declaring war on our City wasn’t bad enough, Brown announced special offer reduced price memberships in the YMCA for a limited time only. Clearly he was hoping to take advantage of his negative publicity to turn a quick buck. After attacking our City he wants our money. That really made me angry.

So I decided to give this arrogant dumb ass suburbanite a little piece of my mind, a warning shot across his bow, so to speak. Here’s the email I carefully composed in a fit of rage on December 30 and fired off to him:

Mr. Brown:

So why should we take advantage of your special offers? You people have already decided to shut down our deliberately starved urban YMCA on Washington Avenue so you can pocket more money with your suburban outlets.

This issue of making money was so important to you when you built the Guilderland YMCA that you demanded that Pine Bush Preserve be sacrificed for your bottom line. As far as you were concerned nothing stood in the way of your new Guilderland Y, not even dedicated preserve land. You only caved in and dropped the drive to take Pine Bush Preserve because you finally realized that Save the Pine Bush was ready willing and able to tie you up in court for a decade.

So Mr. Brown, why don’t you show similar dedication to keeping open our urban YMCA? Are we in Albany are not good enough for you?

I am am sick and tired of people like you, Mr. Brown. Suburbanites like you mismanage the US Postal Service, people like you occupy the Fort Orange Club. You people imagine yourselves as warriors out to destroy our urban community, as apostles of sprawl and crusaders for suburbanization.

This is our City, this is our YMCA. You are the caretaker of our YMCA. We do not give you permission to destroy our YMCA. Put that thought in your mind and keep it there.

-Daniel W. Van Riper