I was asked to look over my old YMCA articles to see if I could help with Muncie’s current project. It appears that a few of our “leaders” have met and decided to close two YMCA Muncie branches to consolidate at Tuhey Park. At first, I was dumbfounded that a proposal even exists, and then I wondered, why pick Tuhey Park?
The YMCA and I have a long history. They banned me from all their facilities when I suggested they should help a struggling Ross Community Center. At the time, the center lacked funds, and the leader was working on her own time to save it. The Y’s CEO told me in her downtown facility that I upset their donors. A member of the Ball Family Foundation later told me that I had no business telling them what organizations they should choose to help. It didn’t matter; our editor at the local paper asked members of the community for ideas.
Needless to say, I was banned from ever using their facilities, yet I wasn’t even a member. Very odd. What was funny was a few years later, the Ball Family did help the center, so it was a happy ending.
When I learned of the YMCA’s proposal to relocate into my neighborhood park where I grew up in Muncie, and my dad has paid taxes religiously for over seventy years, I was shocked. I currently reside just north of Tuhey Park on University Avenue, and we’ve had problems with flooding for decades after a hard rain. Complaints filed – no action ever taken. No city engineers, nothing. Therefore, I was curious to learn more.
After a quick inquiry or two and watching a video of the proposal, there is not much to learn. I guess they assumed the whole community would support their project without ever explaining the benefit to the surrounding neighbors.
Here is an exercise club that cannot turn a profit even with higher fees than their competition. Since they are tax-exempt, they don’t contribute around $250 thousand a year in property taxes. Can you imagine what our parks could look like if just the YMCA paid their fair share? What’s even worse, the Ball family set up a multi-million dollar trust fund for the club, and they still lose $400 thousand a year.
Many of our ancestors sweated and soiled in glass factories for years making minimal wages with no retirement. Barely struggled to survive from week to week, counting pennies. These Robber Barons pat themselves on the back for giving negroes jobs when other companies in Indiana turned them away but didn’t allow the same negroes to live in white neighborhoods for generations.
Tuhey Pool has a long history of segregation in our community. When I assisted at the pool for several summers back in 2014-16, we had to close the pool for an afternoon because the filtration system didn’t work. The wife of a local Muncie police officer told me she knew the real reason we closed the pool; I asked her to tell me about it, so she did, “The filter broke because of the stuff those niggers put in their hair.”
So with all the emotion that Tuhey conjures, I wondered what I could add to this conversation. Suddenly, it reminded me of the many walks Elise and I have taken in the park. I now walk my dog, Sophie, in the park often as she sniffs for bunnies. Elise has always been in tune with nature. I once teased her, asking if I could build her a giant treehouse in those trees over there as we walked slowly along North Street. I told her she and her friends could have a blast. She laughed and told me I was silly because they are not our trees – our neighbors own those trees. It was almost as if she was scolding me for suggesting it.
So with that, I shall say this, you can wrestle with all your facts and figures and high priced consultants, but you cannot defeat the logic of an innocent child. Sorry to pop your bubble, but the people who live here and pay our taxes in troubling times own that park, with all her trees, bushes, a buffalo, blades of grass, geese, squirrels, and bunnies. In the summer, we have plentiful children of all colors cooling off in the pool built by Depression-era funding of a great Democratic President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Suppose I presented this proposal to FDR’s ghost and all of nature’s wonderful creations; what do you suppose their answer would be once the laughter stopped?
Exactly; “Va te faire foutre.”