Nearly 20-year-old YMCA in New Port Richey shut down
NEW PORT RICHEY - A fixture for nearly two decades near U.S. 19 and Main Street, the YMCA SunTrust Branch has closed. The YMCA gym at 6130 U.S. 19, inside the SunTrust Bank branch building, closed on June 28, said Julio Vega, district vice president for West Pasco for YMCA of the Suncoast. A "We've Moved" sign pasted inside the side-entrance door lists the phone number for the James P. Gills Family YMCA. While the Gills unit of the Clearwater-based YMCA of the Suncoast, in the Trinity area, continues to thrive, "It wasn't feasible for us to keep that site open any longer," Vega said Tuesday.In recent years, the New Port Richey branch specialized in services for older members. Its Silver Sneakers exercise programs remained especially popular with active seniors, Vega said. The YMCA hasn't abandoned loyal members in New Port Richey, Vega said. "There's a lot of options," Vega said. It has partnered with four satellite locations at public buildings or other sites to continue the Silver Sneakers programs. One possible location is the refurbished CARES Elfers Center, starting later this month, Vega said. "We're working on an agreement with them," he said about using the second floor auditorium for exercise programs. The CARES Elfers Center is waiting on certification from insurer Healthways before authorizing the YMCA exercise program, said Evie Parks. She then hopes to contact the local Silver Sneakers participants and welcome them with a pancake breakfast and tour. "We are expecting that to happen in the next 2-3 weeks," Parks wrote in an email. When it first opened, the SunTrust Branch Y was the only venue for YMCA members. The Gills Branch, at 8411 Photonics Drive, would not open until April 1998. Memories have grown a bit fuzzy over the years, but Vega thinks the New Port Richey facility began about 18 years ago. The YMCA branch survived several bank mergers involving Barnett Bank, NationsBank, Huntington Bank and Bank of America. SunTrust Bank has occupied the building since about 2001.