Northampton YMCA Nears Completion

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Construction of the Northampton County YMCA appears nearly complete from this north side view. Photo by Stefanie Jackson.

By Stefanie Jackson – Construction is nearing completion on the $4.5 million, 15,000-square-foot Northampton County YMCA in Cape Charles, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for May 29, and doors officially opening soon after.

Memberships are climbing steadily and are expected to reach 300 to 400 membership units (memberships for individuals, couples, and families) and 600 to 800 total members, said Julie Crowley, district vice president of YMCA of South Hampton Roads, prior to a hard-hat tour of the new facility April 27.

There is no joining fee to sign up for a YMCA charter membership. New members of the Northampton County YMCA may use the Eastern Shore Family YMCA in Onley (or any YMCA of South Hampton Roads) until the new facility opens.

No contract is required to join the YMCA; memberships are renewed every 30 days or can be canceled anytime.

Crowley said the YMCA lost about 35% of its membership during the COVID-19 pandemic, but as COVID-19 cases drop, vaccinations rise, and operating hours return to normal, memberships are increasing.

YMCA members can also participate in online fitness classes through the Virtual Y program.

The Northampton County YMCA will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a benefit to members who may be apprehensive about returning to the gym during a pandemic and prefer to work out during off hours, Crowley said.

Membership cards can be scanned to grant access to the facility anytime. Only the fitness center will be available outside of regular hours; no locker rooms or other areas will be accessible, Crowley noted.

Equipment in the fitness center will include exercise bikes, treadmills, elliptical machines, weight resistance machines, and free weights.

Parents will be able to drop off their children at the childcare center for up to two hours a day while the parents exercise. The caregivers, who are highly trained and CPR-certified, engage the children in play, arts and crafts, and other activities, Crowley said.

The men’s and women’s locker rooms will have both showers and dry areas, and lockers will be available for day use or rent, for members who wish to keep their gear on-site.

There are three separate family changing rooms for families with small children or adults who need help with dressing. Two of the changing rooms have showers and toilets. The heated, outdoor pools – a recreational pool and a lap pool –  are accessible by door at the end of the hallway.

Donations to the Northampton County YMCA capital fund are still coming in, and the future addition of an architectural membrane over the lap pool, as requested by locals, is still possible.

It would be similar to a tent, enclosing the pool and allowing it to be used in colder weather. The sides could be removed in the summer, leaving a canopy over the pool, providing shade.

There is a group exercise room; classes such as yoga and Pilates will be offered and are included in the cost of a YMCA membership, Crowley said.

A multipurpose room can host youth programs like summer day camp and other programs like Parents Time Out, which Crowley likened to “free babysitting,” giving parents a chance to enjoy an evening out. The program is normally held twice a month, and participants must register in advance.

Outside is an athletic field, where kids can play T-ball or summer campers can enjoy various outdoor activities in good weather. There’s also room for a pavilion, Crowley added.

Northampton County YMCA charter members who register now for a small fee will have their names displayed on a wall in the lobby as a thank-you for joining early, she said.

For more information about the Northampton County YMCA or to join, visit www.ymcashr.org/locations/northampton-county-ymca

The Northampton County YMCA has two outdoor pools currently under construction. Above is the recreational pool with the lap pool directly to its left. Photo by Stefanie Jackson.