YMCA Youth Center in Jeopardy

By: Kara Tsuboi
By: Kara Tsuboi

In September 2002, Link Piazzo, a local businessman, donated one million, 25-thousand dollars for the YMCA's new youth center. Now, less than four years later, the Y wants to sell that property with the understanding that the new owners would tear it down.

Link Piazzo has been a member of the Reno YMCA for 77 years. To him, it's not just a place for his morning fitness routine, but a special gathering point for the entire community.

When he donated one million dollars for the youth center, he expected it to last for generations not torn down in less than four years.

"It's brand new. It accomodates 8000 youngsters. I am so pleased when I walk in there and see all these kids. And they will not be able to accommodate them anywhere else," says Piazzo.

The building at 50 West Liberty is where the Y plans to move their fitness center. The YMCA does openly admit, however, that they are still in negotiations for where they're going to put their childrens' facilities.

That's why so many people in the community don't understand why the current facility on Foster Drive can't be salvaged.

"I would have given the money to renovating what they have there now if they intend to renovate. No one said anything about that. And it didn't need renovating until these new people cam in and it started to deteriorate. And they did nothing about bringing it up to par."

This week, Link is sending a letter to the chairperson of the YMCA board, explaining how he feels "duped and defrauded" by the Y's actions.

He goes on to request reimbursement of 800-thousand of his charitable contribution with payment directly out of escrow from the sale of the Foster Street campus if another arrangement to keep the Y where it is can't be reached.

If he does not hear a satisfactory response from the letter and a proposed meeting, he's requesting his full donation back plus interest and damages.

Calls to the YMCA and their Public Relations agent went unreturned.

The YMCA faces another major hurdle with the homeowners living in the adjacent neighborhood, Westfield Village. The Y needs them to sign off on some restrictions to clear the title for sale. On Thursday evening, the two groups will meet to discuss the situation.


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