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YMCA construction begins

Date: 1/31/2014

By Carley Dangona

AGAWAM – A celebration kicked off the start of construction on the Agawam YMCA Wellness & Program Center on Jan. 23.

The building process will last until April, with the center slated to open in late May or early June. Once complete, the 9,000 square-foot area will offer a health and wellness center, a group exercise space, a café, a technology center, a child development area and a community meeting space.

Kirk Smith, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, described the importance of the event. “It’s been a long journey. It was a huge sigh of relief – that lasted five minutes,” he said, noting that the fundraising process is ongoing.

The YMCA is $100,000 short of its $500,000 goal. Many donors have stepped forward, but more are needed, Smith said.

“After 40 years without a building, we are proud to respond to the growing need for our services by opening this ‘Cheers-like’ center, where everyone knows your name,” Smith, said. He added that the idea to create this location started about five years ago.

“Anytime you see a wonderful project come to fruition, it’s very exciting,” Mayor Richard Cohen stated, thanking all those involved for their hard work and contributions of time and money.

Smith explained the center would differ from a Planet Fitness or Gold’s Gym because it will offer a “jaw fitness area,” the café, where members can interact and build a sense of community.

The technology area will feature laptops and classes for every skill level from children to seniors. He cited the importance of being able to extend science, technology, engineering and math learning outside of school as a motivation for the section.

“It’s going to be a typical Northeast, mom and pop Y,” Smith said.

“It will be a place where the young can learn from the seniors and the seniors can learn from the young,” Cohen stated.

According to Smith, charter memberships are now available for $500; half of which goes towards the fundraising. The remaining amount secures a lifetime membership that can be used in any YMCA and will not be subject to an increase in cost.

Organizations and individuals interested in donating to the cause should contact Nikki Durham at or visit