New Approach Needed at the RECenter

Since its start, the Y.M.C.A. East Hampton Recenter has never quite seemed to get it right. Now, amid renewed concerns about respiratory ailments some say are caused by an inadequate ventilation system, the time may at last have arrived to get serious about changes.

 The RECenter is an odd hybrid, owned by the Town of East Hampton and yet run by a private organization under contract. Taxpayers contribute about $600,000 annually for its upkeep; Y memberships fund the rest. In some ways, this leaves no one really in charge; not the town board, not the out-of-town Y.M.C.A. bureaucracy.

 Aside from questions about air circulation or lack therof, the RECenter is far less appealing than other facilities in the tristate area, notably, the well-appointed S.Y.S., the Southampton Youth Services Recreation Center. Troubles at the East Hampton site are indicated by its crowded workout area, threadbare sofas that look as if they were frat house rejects, and often filthy floors and shower drains, particularly in the cramped women’s locker room. And then there is the continuing tension about just which user groups the place is supposed to be for: youth, for whom it was originally built, or adults, just there for a workout.

The town recently committed $750,000 for repairs at the RECenter, an indication of the scale of the problems, perhaps. But when all things are tallied, this is just a beginning. An honest conversation among all involved, and the public, is overdue about the facility’s direction, leadership, and, ultimately, if an entirely new approach is needed.