CHAPEL HILL – Earlier this year, more than 270 local residents signed a petitionobjecting to the closing of the racquetball courts at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA—as well as the procedure by which that decision was made.

Now, the YMCA’s Board of Directors may be thinking twice, at least to an extent: last Friday, the Board passed a pair of resolutions calling for more public feedback on how the Y’s facilities ought to be used—but apparently standing by its decision to hold meetings in closed session.

The controversy began earlier this year, when the Board voted to close the racquetball courts in order to expand the facility’s workout space. That decision came partly in response to a member survey conducted last year—but some members said they never got the survey. Then racquetball supporters say they were angered when they showed up to a Board meeting to object, only to be told the meeting was closed to the public.

In February, a petition appeared on calling for the Board to reconsider closing the courts and to hold all subsequent meetings in open session. By the end of last week, 274 people had signed on.

Friday’s Board vote comes in response to that petition. The first resolution is a commitment to “broaden the facilities use study” and make sure every YMCA member has a chance to give feedback. The second, responding to the call for open meetings, is a bit more vague: it calls for the Board to “continue…work(ing)…to develop best practices” for its meetings, but doesn’t necessarily indicate any future change in policy.

In a statement, Board Chair Dabney Grinnan said the Board voted “nearly unanimously” in favor of both resolutions.

The Board of Directors of the CHCYMCA has heard from some membeers that they did not receive surveys conducted last year to gather members’ views regarding utilization of the present physical facilities and services available at its MLK Jr. Blvd. facility. Thus the Board has determined to broaden the facilities use study and to seek more data. A task force will be developed to involve YMCA stakeholders in the design and execution of the new space utilization. The Board believes that it is appropriate also to work with a third party such as SEER in this effort. The goals of our new process will be to recognize the opportunities offered by the energy and interest expressed by members in recent weeks, to value their participation and to turn their energy and ideas to positive ends, and especially to take care that every stakeholder’s interest and inclination to help this Y to grow in a positive direction to serve the entire community is put to good use.

The Board will continue the Governance work it began last fall to determine best practices for non-profit board meetings and by-laws. We are a YMCA and best practices of Y-USA will be our guide.