Money mat­ters and neg­a­tiv­ity forces Tren­ton from YMCA name

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - NEWS - L.A. Parker Colum­nist L.A. Parker is a Tren­to­nian colum­nist. Find him on Twit­ter @LAParker6 or email him at LAParker@Tren­to­

Sam Frisby, a Mercer County Free­holder and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for Cap­i­tal Area YMCA for­merly known as the Tren­ton YMCA, of­fered an in­vi­ta­tion.

Frisby wanted at­ten­dance and cov­er­age for a party to an­nounce his or­ga­ni­za­tion’s name change, a step away from all the neg­a­tiv­ity as­so­ci­ated with Tren­ton. Good­bye Tren­ton. Hello Cap­i­tal Area YMCA. Yuck-ola. Frisby de­fended the change, say­ing that the move, sup­ported unan­i­mously by board mem­bers, made a lot of sense.

“Made a lot of sense be­cause we serve ar­eas like Ewing and Lawrence. This be­comes more an is­sue about get­ting more people into the tent. We did our re­search and found that most people as­so­ciate the Cap­i­tal Area name with Tren­ton. I know that the city has been try­ing to re­brand it­self as the Cap­i­tal Area. We’re still in Tren­ton, still in the same build­ing, still have the same ob­jec­tives, we’re just op­er­at­ing un­der a dif­fer­ent name,” Frisby said.

Dif­fer­ent name teth­ered to the same dis­ap­point­ing per­cep­tions that have people jump­ing ship, killing off Tren­ton not only in name but also de­liv­er­ing an­other nailed ac­cep­tance that this city holds no chance of re­vi­tal­iza­tion. Frisby dodged and em­ployed deft in­sights, even­tu­ally cir­cling back to the real is­sue.

“It’s get­ting much tougher for non-prof­its. And now that we’re not far away from $15 an hour min­i­mum wage, it’s go­ing to get a lot more dif­fi­cult. We have to raise money, find more fi­nan­cial sup­port. In or­der to make the busi­ness work and make the num­bers work, we gotta do what we have to do. We know that there’s neg­a­tiv­ity con­nected to the name “Tren­ton.” That’s why you re­brand.”

The al­ter­ation, re­brand or giv­ing up on, par­al­leled a 1996 de­ci­sion when trustees of Tren­ton State Col­lege voted 8 to 0 to change the school’s name to the Col­lege of New Jersey.

Then Mayor Dou­glas H. Palmer de­scribed the name change as “an af­front to the (Tren­ton) com­mu­nity.”

The Col­lege of New Jersey at­tracted a dif­fer­ent class of sub­ur­ban stu­dents, cul­ti­vated sig­nif­i­cant suc­cess and earned sta­tus as a topranked col­lege in nu­mer­ous na­tional polls.

No doubt, a mass shoot­ing at Art All Night, a premier city event pro­duced se­ri­ous re­crim­i­na­tions and judg­ments about Tren­ton. With more than a dozen people wounded and a gun­man shot dead in­side a Roe­bling Iron Works fa­cil­ity, Tren­ton made na­tional and in­ter­na­tional news.

Sum­mer of 2018 de­liv­ered an uptick in vi­o­lence, par­tic­u­larly shoot­ings, con­tin­ued bad news for a city that needed pos­i­tive oc­cur­rences.

Re­mov­ing Tren­ton as an iden­ti­fier for the YMCA means a per­ma­nent de­ser­tion, a be­lief that this city will never at­tain re­vi­tal­iza­tion. Tak­ing Tren­ton out of the name serves as pla­ca­tion for many people who live out­side the city or breathe bet­ter air in the fi­nan­cially se­cure sub­ur­ban-like city en­claves.

What’s next? Tren­ton Thun­der, an Amer­i­can Mi­nor League Base­ball team and Dou­ble-A af­fil­i­ate of the New York Yan­kees, be­comes Cap­i­tal Area Thun­der.

Or, per­haps the fa­mous Delaware River bridge sign drops Tren­ton for “Cap­i­tal Area Makes, The World Takes.”

We could in­stall Cap­i­tal Area Free Pub­lic Li­brary or re­move Tren­ton as the state cap­i­tal, opt­ing for a lo­ca­tion with min­i­mal crime, less gun vi­o­lence and a suc­cess­ful ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

“When I was just a board mem­ber, I fought against a name change but now that I’m charged with run­ning this busi­ness, I have to do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to keep our doors open,” Frisby said.

“I live in Tren­ton. And I want to see this com­mu­nity im­prove, get bet­ter. I have to find ways to make this work.”


Kids cool off in the pool at the YMCA in Tren­ton.

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