My friends and I were all dismayed and disappointed when we recently received an email that announced that the YMCA branch in Manchester was closing. Beyond offering opportunities for exercise and recreation, the facility has been a social gathering place and a wonderful resource for the community. Some people would get together every morning just for coffee and to chat with their friends.

The facility also has the best track in the area for walking and running. On cold winter mornings it has offered a wonderful place to get some exercise without risking life and limb on the ice and snow. The exercise class my friends and I attended was the largest of all classes at both Y branches and we looked forward to seeing each other and the inspiring instructors who led us in routines that pushed us to improve our skills and endurance. The Manchester Y attracted people from all over the area, men and women, young and old. Even the beat-up locker room had a welcoming feel.

Then came the pandemic and the Y was closed, and while a few activities and classes have resumed, many of us have been reluctant to attend where there are large groups and when it is difficult to wear a mask. My husband and I have been to the Manchester Y a number of times in the last six months, but with few classes and fear of COVID, the number of people there has diminished. But the need for such a facility continues.

My first hope is that the Y board finds some way to keep it open and reconsiders their decision. If that does not happen, perhaps some other entity will buy the building and offer similar programs and classes. The legacy of Bob Cumler should be carried on.

Joan Sturmthal


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