Dunbar financial issues could shut down the Y programs

More than 3,500 people use the center's services

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield’s Mason Square neighborhood could soon lose its community center to foreclosure.

The YMCA of Greater Springfield offers programs over in Mason Square where they lease Dunbar’s property on Oak Street, but that building could soon end up on the auction block.

Gloria Williams brings her granddaughter to the Dunbar Community Center in Mason Square. She said, “Without this they would have nothing.”

A second home to her family and many others in the neighborhood. Beatrice Dewberry who was born and raised in Springfield said, “This is not just a landmark. We’re really a Dunbar family.”

Williams added, “I mean, it’s a benefit for our community for our children.” However, the place where the YMCA of Greater Springfield offers services could soon be sold.

Dunbar Inc., the owner of the building, has struggled to pay off a million dollar loan that funded an addition in 2000. The mortgage-holder, Republic Financial Corporation, now has plans to auction off the building. That means the Y may have to leave.

The Dunbar Community Center offers many different programs throughout the day for both the young people and the seniors of Mason Square. Many people call this center a “safe haven” for the entire community.

CEO of the YMCA of Greater Springfield Kirk Smith said, “I will tell you, if this goes away it’s not like crime in this community doesn’t exist, we all know that to be true. When you start putting young people out on the streets, running around, you’re going to put them right in the midst of this.”

Dewberry told 22News, “We’ve had parents come in and talk about how their young sons are no longer hanging out on the streets because of programming here at Dunbar, so it absolutely changes lives. It changes lives obviously for the better.”

The auction date has not been announced yet. Meantime the Y will continue to maintain its daily operations. More than 3,500 people use the center’s services. The Y does provide 2 million dollars in aid to members so people who want and need community programs can take advantage of the center.

Again, to be clear, it’s Dunbar that owns the building and is currently dealing with financial troubles. The Y uses the space to run the programs.

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