Northampton City Briefing: YMCA opens new airnasium

Hayley White leads a Cardio Dance Party class in the Airnasium at the Hampshire Regional YMCA in Northampton on Wednesday morning. “People want to be with people, this gives us an opportunity to exercise with people outside safely,” said CEO Julie Bianco.

Hayley White leads a Cardio Dance Party class in the Airnasium at the Hampshire Regional YMCA in Northampton on Wednesday morning. “People want to be with people, this gives us an opportunity to exercise with people outside safely,” said CEO Julie Bianco. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Hayley White leads a Cardio Dance Party class in the Airnasium at the Hampshire Regional YMCA in Northampton on Wednesday morning. “People want to be with people, this gives us an opportunity to exercise with people outside safely,” said CEO Julie Bianco.

Hayley White leads a Cardio Dance Party class in the Airnasium at the Hampshire Regional YMCA in Northampton on Wednesday morning. “People want to be with people, this gives us an opportunity to exercise with people outside safely,” said CEO Julie Bianco. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writer

Published: 06-06-2024 11:01 AM

Modified: 06-06-2024 3:05 PM


NORTHAMPTON — The Hampshire Regional YMCA marked the grand inauguration of its airnasium on Wednesday, the first YMCA in the Northeast to do so.

The new 2,250-square-foot outdoor gymnasium, features exercise bikes, weight racks and a roof to protect members from the elements. At the grand opening, participants took part in a dance aerobics class as part of the festivities.

The airnasium has been months in the making, with a groundbreaking ceremony held last November. The project was conceived in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, when social distancing requirements forced many indoor activities to be moved outdoors.

As YMCA leaders considered outdoor expansion ideas for their 4,500 members, they stumbled upon the idea of an “airnasium,” which is already prevalent in southern areas of the country. The YMCA worked with Berkshire Design Group to research and create the project design, and engaged Keiter Corporation as the contractor.

The $1 million project is funded by local contributors, including from the city of Northampton, which gave $40,000 through American Rescue Plan Act funds. Other prominent donors include Florence Bank, Greenfield Savings Bank and D.A. Sullivan.

YMCA anticipates using the airnasium not only for classes and community gathering, but also for events like its annual Healthy Kids Day and Trunk-or-Treat event. The Y also partners with organizations including Northampton Parents Center and Girls on the Run, which can also utilize the space.

Lead water lines

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is looking for Northampton residents with lead water service lines to ensure existing water supplies are safe to drink.

Lead can enter the drinking water supply of a home or business through corrosion of old service line pipes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists on its website a guideline to determine whether a water service line is made of lead, potentially putting one at risk for lead contamination.

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Those with lead water pipes can take a picture of their pipes using their smartphones and upload the photo to the Mass Lead Service Line Identification Web App, which can be accessed via a computer or mobile device, followed by a brief questionnaire.

The EPA guideline and the Lead Service Line Identification app can also both be accessed via these QR codes.

Inaugural Nartowicz award

The Florence VFW handed out its inaugural Edwin Nartowicz award last week, granting $500 to a Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School student who excels in the school’s criminal justice program and has demonstrated leadership and volunteerism.

The award, which went to senior class salutatorian Madison Gorrell, is named after Edwin Nartowicz, a veteran of World War II originally from South Deerfield who served as a machine gunner in northern Italy as part of the Third Infantry Division. Nortowicz was meant to present the award himself at Smith Vocational’s senior awards night, but he died in April at the age of 100 years old.

Instead, the award was presented by Larry Didier, another member of the Florence VFW.

“I knew Eddy for 25 years. He was a really great guy,” Didier said.

Vintage Book Fair returns

The Northampton Vintage Book Fair will return for a second year, allowing literary lovers from across the Pioneer Valley a chance to find rare books not normally seen in stores.

The fair launched for the first time last year by residents Joel Levin, who runs the Dewey Decimals online Etsy shop, and Michael Manz of the Babylon Revisited Rare Books website.

The fair will feature a selection of books from many of the area’s local bookstores, such as Raven Used Books and Broadside Books, as well as Easthampton’s Book Moon. It will also feature books from the personal library of Madeleine L’Engle, the author of “A Wrinkle In Time” and a Smith College alumna.

As with last year, the book fair will be held behind Thornes Marketplace at 1 Kirkland Ave. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. In the case of rain on that day, the fair will be held on Sunday at the same place in time.

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.