The YMCA of Southern Maine will close its Pineland Branch in New Gloucester on Sept. 2, following a steep decline in memberships during the pandemic.

But the closing will not result in any layoffs, said Helen Breña, president and CEO.

Sue Grover of Cumberland holds the door for her daughter, Meagan, 3, as they leave the YMCA at Pineland Center in New Gloucester in Dec. 2002. Jill Brady/Staff photographer, file

Breña said the Y will offer members who used the Pineland Branch programs that are virtual or at partner locations, but has not yet determined yet where to offer services such as after-school care.

“The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges and opportunities for the YMCA to support our community,” Breña said.

The YMCA opened the Pineland Branch in 2003 and offered a range of amenities and programs, including a gym, pool, bowling alley, day camp and before- and after-school care. The pool never reopened after the pandemic shutdown and Pineland didn’t have a summer camp this summer.

The branch is located at Pineland Farms, a 5,000-acre working farm with a campus that includes businesses and educational programming.


The YMCA’s locations in Portland, Biddeford, Freeport and New Gloucester closed for three and a half months at the beginning of the pandemic. During that time, staff continued to work, connecting with members and the outside community by doing things like delivering meals and calling members who were feeling isolated, Breña said.

But the closures led to a decline in memberships across all of YMCA of Southern Maine’s locations. The Pineland Branch was hit particularly hard, with membership plummeting from about 2,200 pre-pandemic to just over 650 now – about 31 percent of its previous membership. Other locations have seen drops, too, but have retained 50 percent or more of their old memberships, Breña said.

“With membership at 31 percent of where it was pre-pandemic, it’s difficult to sustain a facility,” she said.

The Y was already having trouble breaking even in the years immediately preceding the pandemic’s start in March 2020.

In the three most recent years for which its tax filings are available – 2017-19 – the YMCA of Southern Maine reported that operating expenses exceeded revenue. The nonprofit brought in $10.7 million in revenue in 2019, down about $540,000 from the year before. But its expenses in 2019 topped $10.9 million.

Total revenue in 2018 was $11.3 million and expenses totaled nearly $11.5 million. In 2017, expenses exceeded revenue by $165,000. And then came the pandemic years, for which no filings are available yet.


In addition to its branches, the YMCA of Southern Maine runs the Otter Pond Outdoor Adventure Camp in Standish and virtual programming. Nearly 40,000 people participate in its programs, and last year the nonprofit provided nearly $1.2 million in financial assistance for its programs and classes, according to the organization.

Breña said the Y is still looking for ways to offer programs in the Gray-New Gloucester area, potentially through school-based childcare and classes in medical centers.

Pineland YMCA members will be able to shift their memberships to the Casco Bay branch in Freeport, a 20-minute drive from the New Gloucester location.

While she recognizes that change is hard, Breña said there are other YMCAs nationally that continue to serve their communities without having physical locations. During the pandemic, she said, the YMCA of the USA encouraged local and regional Ys to find creative ways to offer programs and services.

“We’re looking at how we can service the community in different ways,” she said. “During the year (of the pandemic) we went outside of our walls. We served more people at all of our branches than we did the year before.”

The YMCA has 22 employees at the Pineland Branch, and they’ll all be offered other positions in the organization, Breña said.

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