Future Uncertain For Hazleton YWCA

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HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Efforts are ongoing to save the now-closed Hazleton YWCA.

The facility closed in June and those who run the “Y” say they can’t say its future is still in doubt. The YWCA, a non-profit agency, was the only facility in Hazleton that offered a gym and a swimming pool to the public as well as a daycare center. So its closing has impacted many people. Now the question is will it get new life?

“We are doing our very best,” YWCA Board of Directors president Lauren Sacco said.

But for now, the YWCA on South Church Street remains closed to the public. It’s been closed since June 30th because of financial problems. The money troubles got so bad that the utility bills were not being paid and the mortgage payments got way behind.

The bank moved in. It’s been on the list for sheriff’s sale several times but has been postponed as the board of directors, led by Sacco, tried to find solutions that will give new life to the landmark building.

“We have recently applied for an LSA grant with support from the city of Hazleton. We are applying for about $300,000 to $350,000. We are looking to use that money to get the facility up to par,” Sacco said.

Community fundraising efforts did raise some $80,000, but it simply wasn’t enough to keep the “Y” open.

“Our goal at the end of the day is to get this place back up and running and we feel we are looking more positive at this point than we have in the past,” Sacco said.

State Representative Tarah Toohil is working with the “Y” board to make that happen.

“There is state money that could become available for expansion of the pool at the “Y. That’s something we are open to but that would have to be given to the right management and right mission,” Toohil said.

Folks like Harry Hinkle just hopes the “Y” will live to fight to see another day.

“I mean I grew up going there as a kid that’s something the community really needs. It’s important for the younger generation,” Hinkle said.

So how did it get to this point? Sacco says it was nothing of a criminal nature by its former management team pertaining to its finances, but rather it was poor management by that team.

She also confirms that the Hazleton Area School District has expressed an interest in using the “Y” pool for some of its’ special needs classes and a local healthcare business has also been asking a lot of questions about the facility.

The YWCA is listed for sheriff’s sale at $1.3 million. It is set for the second week of February.

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