The news that a $3.85 million regional green energy investment by the North Shore YMCA will not include the aging YMCA building on Middle Street may have raised a few eyebrows when reported in Thursday’s Times.
Yet the omission makes perfect sense when one hears YMCA CEO Jack Meany note that the plans are based on the premise that the Cape Ann YMCA’s expects to be in a different building within the next five years.
What’s not clear at this point is whether the YMCA is looking to build a new facility or whether officials are indeed banking on getting use of the former Fuller School building – a prospect that’s clearly been in the talking stages now for several months — though few city officials will acknowledge that or talk about it.
Given Meany’s comments, and given that the YMCA’s decision regarding its energy project represents something of a commitment, to at least leaving its Middle School site, it now seems more important than ever that city officials and the YMCA begin to talk openly about whether and where the Fuller School fits into the YMCA’s plans. For the fact is, city officials must also keep in mind that any decisions or commitments regarding Fuller should now wait until the result of residents’ advisory opinion — one that should be rendered this November in a referendum tentatively planned for the city elections.
The comment by the North Shore YMCA’s CEO may have been innocent enough, simply explaining why the Y is not including its Cape Ann facility in a major green energy initiative. But it also cries out for further explanation regarding the Y’s plans — and clarification by the city as to whether the Y is counting on Fuller as an option before residents get the input they deserve.