Closed "Y" Board meetings

This is from Bob Epting -  

Dear Friends,

Would you please, please, please take time to go to the link below,as well as my attached letter to the Y Board President, and vote to support our petition asking the Board of Directors either to back up and make the process inclusive, or to call a general membership vote to change the by-laws of the Y, so as to open their Board meetings, and so as to require membership participation in facilities closure determinations.

And would you please send this on to five others, and ask them to send on to five others each.

It is outrageous that the present Board of Directors, for the first time in the forty year history of the Y, has declared their Board meetings to be closed, and not open to the public, and has made decisions like this with no opportunity for Court users to participate,  This morning the present President of the Y Board wrote Rosemary Waldorf and Paula Miller (past Presidents, themselves) arguing that the Y is a "closed non-profit," not a public non-profit, and that members have no right to participate or even observe Board meetings!  We can fix that if you will let them know how out-of-touch that madness is with our community's prevailing values for governance of public bodies.

We think this is a "whole community" issue, not just a Y issue, as the Y in essence belongs to the whole community, and needs to be run in accordance with community values of open, democratic governance. 

(This is just another step in the progression towards turning our local Y over to the Triangle Y, which in my opinion would be a disaster, and would take away our local control over what we planned, fought for, built, and paid for right here in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, for Orange County citizens.)  

Please help by signing our petition and having your many (health conscious) friends do likewise.



Here is the link to the Petition:



Thanks for posting this, Penny. I'm not a Y member, and given their antics in the last couple of years I'm not sure I ever would be. I can't understand why an organization that purports to serve our community has such a hostile attitude to the public.

How are similar organizations governed? The IFC is not a perfect comparison, but I wondered if their Board meetings are always open. Or Weaver Street? Or Girl Scouts?The procedure questions are real and important. But I have to comment that the underlying decision that the Board made, to trade racquetball court space for work-out space, seems sound. The racquetball courts serve only a few and are often empty and the work-out space serves many and is crowded.

Jan, I think all conversations should be on the table to make the "Y" a better place, but why do it behind closed doors? What does the board have to hide? The Y is supported by membership dues and donations. All of these folks should be involved in the decission making process. Having a meeting at an undisclosed location with closed doors is very very suspicious. 

On the face of it, your comment makes a lot of sense. But I am asking what is the norm among other similar groups. I bet the IFC makes important decisions about facilities management behind closed doors. I bet Weaver Street does, also. Does WUNC or UNC-TV make programming decisions publicly? Will they contact me before they cancel my favorite program (or kill off my favorite characters)?This whole discussion reminds me of whenever the Girl Scouts wants to make changes at a camp. Everyone whoever enjoyed that camp accuses the board of forgetting GS values and of other nefarious motives. When the truth is they don't want to admit that times change and organizations have to change to keep up.

Jan, I think the important point here is that this is not the first time the Y has gone behind closed doors to discuss heated topics. I think the Y members are not in favor of this kind of decission making and the board needs to respect that. I understand that it is a non-profit and that meetings can be held in undisclosed placed, but if you have to hide to meet because of contorversay, something is worng. On the other hand, I also understand that it is a volunteer board that doesn't want to be yelled at while making unpopular decissions at meetings, but there has to be a balance and I think that is what the members and folks that have donated over the years are requesting.

Penny, calling for a balance that includes opportunities for public input is very reasonable.I still think that this issue is a poor choice to hang that on. The Y apparently surveyed membership about facilities. Even if you think their surveys were poorly done, they have the ultimate in member input in the usage data. The members have spoken in how they use the 2 types of facilities. 

Weaver Street Market's board meetings are typically held either in public places or in their own board room, and are open for all member-owners to attend. They even serve pizza to visitors! Speaking as the former executive secretary to their board, I have to say that it was somewhat rare that non-directors showed up, but they were always welcome.

Thanks. I really am interested in learning about norms.

Thanks for getting this up Ruby. I am not a member of the "Y" either, but my boys played sports there and took advantage of their camps when they were younger. I have been contacted by leaders and citizens in out community that have donated a lot of money to the Y over years and feel  as though they helped build that Y. Now they feel like they are being taken over by the Triangle Y and the board is shutting members and citizens that use the facility out. We have had these conversations with the Y before around the LGBT rights of workers and their partners. Seems like it has all fallen on deaf ears. All three governing boards approve money each year in the budget for the Y. Chapel Hill contributed $8000 dollars, Orange County $2000. I am not sure about Carrboro's amount. We need to be questioning the Y's motives and closed decission making process before commiting additional dollars.

It seems to me that the concerns raised about LGBT rights did not fall on deaf ears, since those rights were preserved.Also, while I understand your questioning of the decision making process (as I questioned the decision making process of similar organizations), I am confused by your questioning their motives here. What nefarious motives are at work in removing an underused space to expand an overcrowded space?


I didn't do anything to "get this post up." I just commented on it! (There is sometimes confusion about the fact that anyone can post on OP, so I wanted to make sure to clarify.) 

thanks for the clarification. =p

Amid the latest flurry of "bad press" that CHCYMCA has brought upon itself, this is but the latest of gaffes the leadership has brought upon itself.  The previous Board president and the current Board president were responsible for making the management service agreement with Y of the Triangle happen at all.  It is still necessary to find out if the Board made that decision, or simply the Exec. Comm OF the Board. 


Y of the Triange--YOTA--is now pulling strings since the agreement was signed, with the President of CHCYMCA Board as their mouth piece in re: the racquetball courts.


Herein lies the problem: YOTA, which promised CHCYMCA that it would change membership application forms that were inclusive of LGBTQ couples, hasn't followed through on that promise yet among YOTA Ys. Nor are there any guarantees that if this agreement becomes permanent that YOTA would give LGBTQ couples who are employees of the YOTA the same benefits they do to straight couples.  Currently, YOTA does not.  YOTA discriminates against LGBTQ couples, both as members and employees.


The racquetball court issue?  This shows that YOTA and CHCYMCA does not honor open discussion with members.  This is but a small sample of larger issues to come wtih YOTA.


The issue of the racquetball courts is but the first large eruption.   It is time to begin disentangling the CHCYMCA from YOTA, then dismissing the current Board of CHCYMCA who do not listen to members, replacing it with a Board that is in conversation with the surrounding community.




Jan's assertion that the wellness space is overcrowded while the Courts space is unused, implying that this is a constant condition, is simply wrong.

I have played on the Y Courts for more than thirty years, several times a week, and I walk right by the present wellness space (the treadmills, stairclimbers, free weights and other weight machines in the original gymnasium space) to get to the two Courts, which were built as a part of the original Y, to provide the only such space available to the public in Orange County.  The fact is that last week at the afternoon peak time, 5:30, more than one-third of the machiles were not occupied, while the Courts were reserved and used by regular players each day during the morning hours 10 to 12, and afternoons 4 through 8.  At peak times for the wellness space, the Courts are generally also in use.  At other times during the day, there are often fewer than five persons using the 25 or so wellness machines,  just as there are certaianly times of the day when the Courts are empty.

Built at the time when the University was deciding to reserve its handball Courts for UNC student and faculty use only, (racquetball was just begining to take off), the two Y Courts were designed and intended for use for two-person, three-person, and four-person matches.  To compare their total number of uses to the total number of persons who might be on the machines on the wellness floor at any one time is like comparing apples and oranges.  Not comparing their relative costs to the Y is also telling, by omission, for the Courts cost nothing to operate, while the machines cost thousands of dollars each to purchase, and additional sums to maintain and operate.

Nevertheless, the various arguments about the competing values and costs of these two very beneficial recreational activities should have been a critical component of the Y Board's decision-making process.  Sadly, instead, the Board and senior staff elected not to involve the Court users in the decision making, or even to let them know what was being considered.  I do not know who concluded that we would not be told, or involved, but I do know the planning went on for months and their decision to close the Courts to provide more space for the machines was made without any mention to any of us.

So when the Court user were finally advised, after the decision had been made, that their Courts would be closed and re-purposed to provide more space for the existing machine users, our attempts to communicate with the full Board were re-buffed, and Mr. Billy Barnes and I were not allowed to attend and listen to the Board's discussion of our petition to review the decision with everyone involved, and especially with input from users.  

We were told when we got to the meeting door, that the Board meeting was closed, and that all Y Board meetings are closed.  No one would answer when I asked who had closed it, or how could it be closed when it had not even begun, and indeed, a quorum was not even yet present.

Meantime, since then, five former Board Presidents have condemned the assertion that Y Board meetings have  ever been closed, and have called on the Board to recant.

For all of us, Court users and machinists, I have petitioned to have the general membership vote by election, as permitted by the by-laws, to amend the by-laws to clarify that all Board meetings are to be open meetings, and, that re-purposing major facilities at the Y may not be undertaken without the concurrence of the membership.  I plan to attend with others interested in these amendments at the next meeting of the Y Board next Wednesday.  The Y Board President has written me to say the meeting will be closed after the first 15 minutes, so I suppose we are not to be allowed even to hear the Board's discussion of our request to amend the by-laws.  How very sad, indeed.  And just plain wrong. 

It is my hope that the Y Board will come to recognize that it has badly wounded itself, and that we members will all benefit from an opportunity to have a do-over, with all members being involved, everyone (not a random sampling that somehow, magicly, omitted every Court user) surveyed, and everyone involved in gathering and analyzing the input.

There is no reason this decision has to be made and implemented immediately.  It is far more important to repair the damage done, and restore this organization to its members, than it is to hurry up and knock down these Courts.  

If at the end of a new, intentionally inclusive deliberative process, the members should vote to take the Courts for some other purpose, so  be it.

But any suggestion that the machines are always  full and the Courts are always unused and therefore the process is sort of "no harm no foul,", is simply wrong,and ought not be allowed to disrtact the interested communitarian from the mischief obvious in the board's hiding its work from the Y's members. 

I love the Y, and for almost forty years it has made me feel right at home.  Same goes for Billy, who at 80 years old is still playing r-ball with his friends two or three mornings a week, two hours at a time, when the wellness machines are generally empty.  How the Board ever came to decide when we showed up at its last meeting that our listening to their deliberations about our chosen sports would be dangerous to those proceedings and had to be stopped, I will never know.

I do know the Board has stomped on their own toes, and I hope they will have the wisdom and courage to back the process up, begin again, make it inclusive of everyone's views, and convert the energy invested in the obvious attachment we have for this Y to the Y's advantage.

Bob Epting 



(Crossposting from BlueNC) (In response to earlier post alleging that the Courts at the Y are "unused) I just came from my usual Friday handball match at the Y, and want to report that one-half of the exercise machines in the "Wellness Area" adjacent to the Courts were in use when I arrived at 4:45, and fewer than one-third were in use when I left at 6 pm. The same was true every day last week at 5:30 pm, when I surveyed the area, my curiosity aroused by new Y President Dabney Grinnan's assertions in various papers over the last few weeks that the two multi-purpose racquetball/handball Courts are unused, while Wellness machine users are clamoring for more machines to decrease their wait times, and wider aisles to be made more comfortable in their passage there.Verifying that Ms. Grinnan simply repeats what others who are certainly mistaken have told her, really, is a simple matter.At the same time that the fitness machines were awaiting the surmised hoards, at the very hour all would agree to be the Y's busiest, both handball Courts were in use by players (two on one Court, three on the other), which were still busy with racquetball players when I left at the beginning of the six to seven o'clock period.I have to note as well that the Courts were being used earlier this afternoon, as they often are, to corral school children waiting for their parents to pick them up. Though players are often told the Courts are not available for use when the afterschoolers are housed there, (estimate 100 children in there this afternoon), that use, though beneficial enough to displace players, is never counted as a benefit when Ms. Grinnan and her staff handlers report that the Courts stand unused most of the time and simply must be "re-purposed." Nor are the many practitioners of oriental exercise (families mostly), who prefer the separation and silence of the walled Courts for their meditative exercise; or the high school volleyballers who practice there, or the other users of the Courts never seen by the staff, whose offices and attention are upstairs, and who are never seen visiting this area.Worse than that, though, is Ms. Grinnan's choice, just before the start of her first Board meeting as President, to close and thus bar from the meeting two senior, original Y members who have played on the Courts here for more than thirty years, Billy Barnes and Bob Epting. The Seniors had come to hear Ms. Grinnan report to the Board about her meeting the previous week with players disgruntled to learn that staff and the Board had undertaken to close the Courts, (the only Courts in Orange County available to the public), to destroy them, and to fill their space with additional single-story stairclimbers and destination-less bicycles. Only problem, they failed to mention their proposals and plans to the Court users until announcing the decision as a fait accompli. We wanted to know why, and to request that the process be re-opened to allow for opportunities for all members to say whether the Courts should go, not just the staff and and whichever members the admittedly "random" survey had reached, so we found out where the January Board was meeting, and when, and appeared at their front door at the appointed hour."Out, out you must go," Ms Grinnan told us. "Who closed the meeting, did you close the meeting?" I asked her. Officials from the Triangle Y, rushed to defend her, and coming chest to chest with me, argued with me that, "Our meetings are always closed, we are a private, not a public, non-profit." Are you her boss, I wondered out loud, but got no answer from him. "The decision has been made, it does not matter by whom, and I am going to follow it."I thought of Pogo, who, without chest bumping me, whispered from my memory, "She has met the enemy,and sheezit." This coming Wednesday, the 27th of February, we will visit the Y Board meeting again, this time to deliver to the Board the written and spoken statements of five recent Y Presidents, each of whom has assured me that the Y Board meetings have not been closed, to their knowledge, in the last forty years.We will also insist that the Board call and provide for the general election we have requested, and as allowed by the by-laws, of all Y members, upon by-law amendments we are proposing that will "clarify," since the Board now seems uncertain about the matter, that all Y members have the right to attend and observe all Board meetings, and that such meetings are always to be open meetings, except when sensitive matters such as personnel questions are being considered.Ms. Grinnan's response? Late last week she wrote to advise me that the Board will consider our request for an open election by all Y members upon the amendments proposed, at its February 27 meeting, where, in her discretion, the public will be allowed fifteen minutes to address the Board. The rest of the meeting, she asserts, will be closed.Alas, she seems not to know how she has soiled herself, or when or how to stop.See you at the Y Board meeting on the 27th, at noon, at the Y daycare facility on Sunrise Road, just off Weaver Dairy Road.BobeptingRead more:

Y BOARD INSULTS FOUR FORMER BOARD PRESIDENTS, ORIGINAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTORThe YMCA Board of Directors met last Wednesday, again, in secret. And four previous Board Presidents and the original Executive Director of the Y were required to leave the meeting, along with more than fifty Y members, after President Grinnan announced that Y Board meetings will be closed to the public after an initial fifteen minute public comment session at the beginning of each meeting.At the beginning of the meeting, Y staff passed out written rules announcing that five persons would be allowed to address the Y Board for up to three minutes each. The five to speak would have to be picked by lot from names placed in a hat at least ten minutes before the meeting, according to those printed rules. No such rules have ever been applied to Y Board meetings before.Responding to those new rules, the Y’s original Executive Director Howard Tate told the Board that the Y Board always met in public, its meetings were always open to Members, and that he simply did not understand why this practice now had to be changed. No explanation was given him or anyone.Former Y Board President Dr. Paula Miller recounted her years on the Board, and stated that Board meetings had always been open to Members, and that she did not believe the community would continue to support a Y whose Board felt like it had to keep interested Members outside, and not allow them to observe and hear what went on in its meetings.Former Y Board President Maureen Rosen told the Board that it ought to be ashamed of itself for distancing itself from its Members, for closing its meetings to Members for the first time in her experience, and thereby creating a chasm of bad feelings between the itself and the community, and for failing to answer in public the questions and requests made to it in public by its Members.Former Chapel Hill Mayor Rosemary Waldorf, herself a former Y Board President, said that no Board meetings had been closed in her experience, except for consideration of sensitive matters such as personnel issues, and suggested the Board should formally promise in by-law amendments that its Board meetings would be open to the public. She also stated that she felt public funding from governing bodies and from local giving would dry up if the Board continued to insist, as it has under President Grinnan, that its meetings will be closed to the public, and particularly to Members.Former Board President John Curry sent the Board a letter stating that during the Y’s previous financial crisis in the early 1980’s, many Members attended Board meetings he chaired, and made suggestions that proved valuable to saving the Y. He also recalled that much of the new financial support received in that crisis came from Y Members who were, and still are, regular users of the Courts in the YMCA.So how was the testimony of these former Presidents received by the Board?At the end of their remarks, President Grinnan refused to allow the Board to vote on whether to close the meeting. Instead, she declared that the Board had decided in a prior meeting to close all future meetings, and with others clamoring for a chance to speak, she declared the rest of the meeting to be closed and asked the fifty-odd Members who had gathered to observe the meeting, to leave.This is why we have called for general referendum of all Y members, to vote upon amendments that will make specific in the by-laws that Y Board meetings are open meetings, that Members may attend and observe, and that the Board’s business is the Members’ business and must be done in public and with transparency. Frankly, Ms. Grinnan’s determination to keep Y Members from knowing what business its Board discusses, what action the Board is contemplating, what particular positions its various Board members may support, and what each does not support is baffling, especially in light of the ability and experience of all of her predecessors in being able to lead Board in public meeting.Why is it then, that under President Grinnan, the open meetings practices of our YMCA have to be changed and the Board must meet and deliberate in secret?Who is being accommodated by her insistence on closed Board meetings?Are all Board members insisting, or even agreeing with her, that Members of the YMCA cannot be trusted to attend and observe Y Board meetings ?Is it the weakness of her convictions that makes her unwilling to have their discussion hidden from public view? Or is she just so certain that she is right that she feels no need to consider anything else?Are this Y’s assets at risk? Has this Board so weakened it financially that we may not know its peril?Have agreements already been made to turn the assets of our Y, and its future, over to some larger organization with a regional rather than local tradition and outlook? Does the Y’s Management Agreement lead this Y to that end, and are these closed meetings required in order to secure that course, rather than expose it to public discussion?If you were thinking when you began today ‘s remarks that here comes more about why these old guys need to keep on playing Racquetball at the local Y, well surprise, surprise! As a matter of fact, in the course of trying to determine how local staff could have surveyed its members and missed all hundred or so Court users in that process, and by having the door to the Y Board meeting slammed in our face, not just one month, but now for two months in a row, it has become clear that local Board governance has had to become a secret process under President Grinnan. And that as a first priority, that has got to be changed.I don’t expect she will ever be able to say why times have changed and why Board meetings must be secret now that she is President. So long as she continues, and so long as the rest of the Board remains cowed at her declarations as to how they will be allowed, or not, to be observed by and to interact with Y Members, this Y is on a self-destructive path.Perhaps other Board members may begin to see the light, and insist that she stop. I sure hope so. Surely there are some on that Board who are not willing to have her attribute her aversion to transparency, inclusion, and open governance to them by unobserved, un-voted, and unrecorded fiat.Today’s Chapel Hill News reported that one Board member explained the closed meeting Wednesday by reciting his fear that, if the meetings were open, “Folks like you would be in here writing down everything we say.”Well, duh, that’s right, and people would then know what you were doing, what each of you is thinking, who was for it and who against, and come the next Board election, Y Members would have some basis for knowing who to support and who to reject.The way it is, they have no idea whatsoever, until by secret vote at closed meetings, whatever part of the Y they use is announced to have been “re-purposed,” so that others may have the use of the space they used to enjoy.President’s Grinnan’s penchant for autocracy mocks everything this community reveres about the transparency and self-governance by which local non-profits like the YMCA are governed.Please join our efforts to change that by insisting upon an all-Member referendum to amend the Y’s by-laws to keep our Board meetings open and to make the Board aware that its business is, meeting after meeting, our business.And join us as stand out front of the Y with our signs demanding open meetings, and as we attend the next Y Board meeting on the second Wednesday in March, at the Y Day Care Facility operated with Carol Woods residents on Sunrise Road in Chapel Hill. Bob Epting03 03 13

Right on, Bob! I'm glad you're on their case.

Don't mess with Bob Epting

Robert, that the registered agent of the CHAPEL HILL-CARRBORO YOUNG MEN`S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION is Emery Denny. Mr Denny (who Robert and I knew quite well) has been dead for 31 years. Has the corporation neglected its duties under GS 55A-5-01 and aren't interrogatories by the Secretary of State under GS 55A-3-1 proper to see if the corporation is complying with its corporate duties?  Or is another corporation actually running things now?

I see where the President has now announced there will be no Board meeting on the second Wednesday in March.  Seems a quorum cannot be arranged.  They are to pass around and vote on some resolution by telephone or internet instead.Nice, no meeting, no Y Members asking to hear and see how their Board interacts and transacts their business!  And no way for individual Board members to know that each has access to all the information provided to others, or to test the proposal to be offered, no doubt from the Executive committee, with questions or discussion. The only real difference, since they say they'll keep locking us out at future meetings anyway, is that there is to be no photo-op where news crews can photograph previous Board Presidents and Executive Directors, and scores of Y Members being kicked out of their Board meetings, if there is no meeting!  Nevertheless, it is our hope that by that resolution, Board members will agree to open their meetings, as all their predecessor Boards have done.  We also trust that they will cancel their flawed plan to destroy the only public racquetball Courts in town,involve all interested Y Members in a new survey, and develop future space utilization plans with input and support of all Members. If they do not, we will proceed with a general election by all Y Members to amend the Y by-laws to provide for open meetings, public documents, and full transparency of Y Board business to all Y Members.  It is ridiculous that they should have to be reminded of this community's expectations in this regard. Stay tuned, and we will let you know if, when, and where they decide to have another real meeting of the Board of Directors. Bob Epting 


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