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Dennis Chesney is marketing coordinator Central Lake YMCA VernHills .Members are now part park district. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media

Dennis Chesney is the marketing coordinator at the Central Lake YMCA in Vernon Hills .Members are now part of the park district. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 2, 2013 1:38AM

The good news is the Northern Lake YMCA in Waukegan will remain open through 2012. The bad news is a communitywide fund-raising campaign has raised $44,000, far short of the $8 million needed to keep the facility operational past a self-imposed deadline of Oct. 31.

The century-old Waukegan Y got a reprieve after support from the area’s community persuaded the board of directors of the Lake County Family YMCA to keep it open while they figure out a turn-around business model. It will be no small task, as we pointed out in late September when Y officials announced they would close both the Waukegan facility and the Central Lake YMCA in Vernon Hills.

Vernon Hills village and park officials have agreed to take over the Vernon Hills YMCA facility at a cost of considerably more than $1.4 million, which was the figure the Y board rejected in October. Y officials had said a second party was willing to fork over more than $2.25 million for the building. The parties are being tight-lipped on the final cost, but have agreed in principal to the municipal takeover of the agency’s building.

As part of the agreement, the Vernon Hills Y, which has about 3,100 members, will remain open with regular services until as late as Jan. 1. The village and park district have until then to perform inspections, get needed licenses, make staff decisions and finalize paperwork. The village will purchase the property and the park district will operate it while repaying the cost.

Which brings us to the Waukegan facility. Certainly, we’d all like a similar governmental effort, but we don’t see that in the cards for the building at 2000 Western Avenue. Waukegan Township Supervisor Patricia Jones put it bluntly this week: “Our community has no surplus like they do in Vernon Hills.”

The Northern Lake facility needs a rescue angel sooner than later. The community’s heart and commitment is there. It’s hard cash that’s needed to keep the Y afloat into 2013.

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