Gymnastics academy seeks to convert Hope Elephants barn into aerial movement facility

By Kim Lincoln | Feb 07, 2017
Photo by: Louis Bettcher Stacey and Jonas Contakos, owners of North Atlantic Gymnastics Academy in Rockport, are seeking to convert the former Hope Elephants barn into an aerial movement facility.

Hope — The owners of North Atlantic Gymnastics Academy are seeking approval to convert the former Hope Elephants barn into HopeAir, an indoor movement education center.

The Planning Board will hold a public hearing to hear comments on the site plan review application Monday, Feb. 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Office.

Stacey and Jonas Contakos of Rockport have applied for a change of use for the barn, located at 49 Hatchet Mountain Road. The facility is owned by Carrie Laurita.

The Contakoses are proposing to redevelop the barn and fenced-in grounds behind the barn. The inside will be outfitted with a series of trampolines, mats, and a loose foam pit all built into a raised floor, according to information filed with the town. The fenced-in area behind the barn will be partially converted into a 9,000-square-foot parking lot.

The Contakoses and the Lauritas are longtime friends. The couple first moved to the area in 2009 and purchased Camden Hospital for Animals from Victor Steinglass and Jim Laurita. Steinglass retired and Laurita, who died in 2013, stayed on as a friend and mentor to the couple. Shortly after they took over the practice, they also opened the North Atlantic Gymnastics Studio, located at the Penobscot Bay YMCA in Rockport. One of the first coaches they hired was Carrie Laurita. The two couples' friendship just grew from there.

The first goal is to save the barn for the Laurita family and provide a stable lease payment and the second is to provide an alternative movement space for the community where experts and novices alike can congregate and educate in the growing disciplines related to aerial movement, the information filed with the town states.

HopeAir will be open daily year-round and programming will be designed so participants can pay hourly, monthy or yearly for open gym time where they will be required to go through an annual training class. Participants also can pay for specific classes. They are expecting a range of 50 to 200 active monthly participants with a daily average of 15 to 20 people.

Courier Publications Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at

Comments (3)
Posted by: Kim Lincoln | Feb 13, 2017 14:02

Hope does not have zoning.

Posted by: Cathy Baker | Feb 07, 2017 17:53

Well, the elephants didn't, nor all the people coming to visit them.  I don't think Hope is big on zoning out businesses.

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Feb 07, 2017 16:31

I wonder if this is a zoned area. Seems to me the traffic would hinder serenity of neighbors.

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