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Home News Letter to the Editor

An Open Letter to all Rotarians

Ken Miller Jr. for local2 sault ste. marie
July 19th, 2012 at 1:37pm | Last Updated at 1:38pm

This article is a column or editorial.
The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of LOCAL2.

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My father, Ken Miller, was a Rotarian and a trustee of the St. Mary’s River Boat Club. After the boathouse burnt down he was instrumental in rebuilding it with the financial help of the Rotary Club.

Subsequently in 1969, the trustees deeded the property, now called the Rotary and YMCA Tennis and Aquatic Club (RYTAC) to the YMCA for one dollar, on the one condition that the Y make its best efforts to continue to promote water sports and tennis each summer for the youth of this city.

If this promise was broken, the property would revert to the Rotary Club, but before this could happen, a decision on whether all activity had ceased was to be made by a judge.

Certainly the unwritten mission statement of Ken Miller, the other trustees, and Rotary in 1969 was for this property to continue to be the center for boating, sculling, rowing, canoeing, sailing, tennis and social activity for the youth of this city.

Rotary has a four question test to determine if a planned action is compatible with the Rotarian spirit.

1) Is it the truth?

2) Is it fair to all concerned?

3) Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

4) Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

The truth is that the Y has a $1.4 million debt incurred by its renovations, nothing to do with RYTAC. In fact, the Y has made money from RYTAC, especially with its summer day camps. After the membership revival in 2005-6, RYTAC, mainly the tennis membership, was able to donate a sizable amount of money to the Y. A detailed business plan to continue this success was inexplicably ignored by the Y, who appeared to be focused on summer day camps, neglecting tennis, especially junior tennis programs.

The truth is that tennis is not dead in this city. With no effort 80 pledges for tennis membership have been obtained. It is embarrassing that a city of 75,000 has not one decent tennis court. Players have been resorting to play in Soo Michigan and Petoskey and Traverse City. A team of Soo players recently won a regional tournament in Traverse City and are advancing to a larger district tournament.

The truth is that all the Y needs to do is unlock the property and another well-respected institution(s) could manage the property at no cost or effort from the Y.

The demand for facilities for water sports is evident from the Y transferring its day camps to Camp Korah.

Is it fair to all concerned? We feel the Y has lost its moral and ethical compass re RYTAC. We believe that a judge reviewing this situation would be struck by the inequity of the Y breaching its promise and closing the property for the sole reason of financial gain. The YMCA is in the role of trustee of a public charitable trust and as such must avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest by acting directly or indirectly to benefit from the sale of RYTAC.

We believe that Rotary still has the mission to continue the tradition of the SMRBC. Certainly Ken Miller Sr. would be leading the effort to save RYTAC were he still around.

Will it build goodwill? If RYTAC is sold, the YMCA and Rotary will forever be linked together in the shame of collusion for unethical financial gain. .

Will it be beneficial to all concerned? The main beneficiary will be the Y.

From petition response, it is clear that the citizens of this city recognize the priceless value of this property. It has been left to languish for 40 years, never developed to what a proper boating and tennis club could be. Properly managed it could again become a bee-hive of activity for young people, making this city a better place to live, especially for bringing up our youth. The city has a vested interest in increasing the tax base from development of this property, but high rise apartment buildings can be built on farmland. Once sold, this priceless irreplaceable property, a recreational waterfront property in the core of the city for youth will be lost forever, a tragedy for this city.

Ask yourself if the planned actions of Y and Rotary are compatible with the Rotary spirit. Ask yourself what my father and the Rotarians in 1969 would do.

Ken Miller (jr)


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