The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 19, 2010

Recreation Commission shorts, March 8

Electric bill questioned. The Recreation Commission (RecCom) has been struggling for three months with an unusually high electric bill for the pump which fills the irrigation pond at the Banta-Davis Land. On March 8 the commission discussed what steps to take to try to clear up the issue with NSTAR. The meter for the pump was read in October and again in December. The October bill was $55; the December bill was $1,550 (the previous year, the bill was $8). According to RecCom records, the pump has not been turned on all year because the summer was wet enough that the fields never needed to be watered.

RecCom member Rick Amodei, Dan Moseley, who is in charge of watering the fields and a representative from NSTAR will investigate the pump to make sure nothing else is running off that particular meter. NSTAR did replace the meter after the December reading.

Recreation Director Holly Hamilton will also consult with town’s treasurer for advice on how to proceed with the bill. At this point, Hamilton has not paid the bill and NSTAR is sending letters threatening to shut off service even though the matter is under investigation.

Field status. RecCom Chair Mark Spears reported that the playing fields are generally in good condition. The softball field in the back of Spalding needs a truckload of fill. Five hundred dollars was approved.

The Concord Carlisle Youth Baseball League has asked for an early opening of the playing fields this year. Normally the fields are opened around the third week in April. The commission voted to open the fields on April 5 if Concord opens their fields in a similar timeframe. Opening will be delayed if the fields are wet.

Keys. Spears asked the group to approve $300 to replace keys for the padlocks used on recreation facilities such as fences and sheds around town. The expenditure was approved.

Budget. After discussions with the Carlisle Finance Committee, the FY11 Recreation budget was reduced from $116,000 to $111,000 (see Table 1). According to Spears, the department can live with the new budget as long as there are no unforeseen problems. In past years, a variety of unexpected events, such as lightning striking the pump, have caused unexpected expenditures (it cost $2,500 to replace the pump). If the summer is very dry, the fields will need extra watering causing the electric bill to increase. The bids for scheduled maintenance look like they will be lower this year, saving some money.

Regionalization. The Board of Selectmen has put together a special committee charged with identifying regionalization opportunities, to reduce expenses by sharing municipal services with another town. The Recreation Department is one of the candidates for possible regionalization. Spears was asked to appoint a member of the RecCom to sit on the Special Committee.

In discussing the implications of regionalization, Spears stated his opinion that regionalization of the Recreation Department would mean elimination of the department. He also pointed out that the costs of maintenance would not be eliminated through regionalization. If the department were to be eliminated, maintenance would have to be taken over by another department or organization. The FY10 budget includes $56,325 for field maintenance and $60,037 for payroll. The final FY11 budget allocates $49,068 for maintenance and $62,394 for payroll. Spears concluded that elimination of the department would save the town roughly $62,000, not the total recreation budget of $111,000.

Commission members Amodei and Jeff Bloomfield agreed to share the job of sitting on the special committee. They will be responsible for researching the financial implications as well as other costs including quality of programs and maintenance of recreation facilities.

Recreation Programs. The 2010 Summer Fun program is in the planning stages. Hamilton is still taking applications for counselors. Stephanie Philippou, the assistant director last summer, will be the director this summer. The department is looking for homeowners to donate use of their pools. Those who would like to offer their pools should contact Hamilton.

Hamilton is using the new website Ziptivity to increase program enrollment. Parents use Ziptivity to find classes to suit their needs.

Since the fall, Recreation and the private extended day program for school children, Carlisle Kid’s House (CKH), have joined forces to provide access to childcare and participation in after-school recreation programs. If a family wants their child to participate in a class offered by the Rec Department but cannot drive him or her, the child can go to Carlisle Kid’s House before and/or after the class. CKH will drive one or both ways. There is a fee to participate but the child does not need to be enrolled at CKH.

Amodei suggested creating a survey for the town to understand what people like about the current programs and to understand what other programs people would like to see offered. Hamilton thought the idea could be included as a part of the upcoming brochure.

Highland update. RecCom members were encouraged to get involved with the Highland Stabilization and Re-use Committee by committee member Alan Carpenito. In 2009, when the town voted to stabilize the Highland Building, the RecCom expressed interest in using the building for offices and programs. To date, no one from the commission has joined the Highland Committee or attended meetings to plan for the future of Highland. RecCom member Noreen Ma volunteered to join the Highland Committee.

Benfield update. Carpenito also spoke to the group about the Benfield property. The town purchased the 45-acres as a site for affordable housing and a possible athletic field, as well as for conservation land (see “Town Meeting approves purchase of Benfield Parcel A, Mosquito,” March 26, 2004). Carpenito cautioned the RecCom to understand that whatever they planned for a soccer field would have to be approved by the state’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. No member of the commission has been representing Recreation at Benfield meetings. Spears suggested, as he did at their last meeting in November, asking John LaLiberte, a former RecCom member, to come to the next meeting (currently scheduled for April 6) to discuss the role of recreation in the Benfield process. LaLiberte will be asked to help the group understand what part of the property is available to them and what they are able to do with it. ∆

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