HANSON — Selectmen Tuesday, Aug. 9 approved two goals for developing open space and recreation plans, paving the way for a working session on the latter between members of the board, Town Administrator Michael McCue and representatives of the current recreational and parks committees.
The goals, formulated seven years ago by a previous Select Board have been dusted off to ensure consistency in terms of management and style in how things will be handled, according to Selectmen Chairman James McGahan.
“These were two goals that were part of the open space and rec plan and that committee is looking for approval of those two goals or at least a review and agreement or amendment of additional goals,” McGahan said at Tuesday night’s meeting. “I think it’s time.”
The goals, which would allow the town to apply for grants, are expansion and improvement of recreational opportunities as well as protection of natural resources and biodiversity. They involve a review of recreational and parks committees (Recreation, Parks and Fields, Memorial Field and Town Forest) and considering the consolidation of two or more of the committees under a newly created Recreation Committee. There would also be an effort to improve the General Bylaws to be consistent with state regulation of off-road vehicle issues and to participate in state efforts to regulate use on a regional level.
McGahan noted that membership of the Memorial Field and Town Forest committees have dwindled over the years. He said merging the committees would permit a new Recreation Committee to expand into activities outside Camp Kiwanee.
“Basically we’d have to redraft its intent,” he said, which would have to go before Town Meeting.
“If we’re going to get into a discussion about this, I tend to agree with you that you would want the possibility — like other towns do it — where the Recreation Committee would take care of town-wide [events],” said Recreation Committee Chairman James Hickey. “But I also think that, if this was to go through, the Recreation Committee now as it stands would have to have [its] name changed to the Camp Kiwanee Commission, where it would strictly deal with Camp Kiwanee and Cranberry Cove.”
Hickey thought town events, such as the bicentennial celebration and annual Memorial Day parades, would be perfect projects for a new Recreation Committee. He added that Camp Kiwanee would be the only recreation facility generating revenue, and additional recreation demands would strain those funds.
McGahan said another possibility would be “vendoring out” Camp Kiwanee management, including the liquor license responsibility now borne by the town and inspectional responsibilities.
“It’s something to consider as an option,” he said during the meeting.
“We’ve got a board of volunteers who are doing the best job they can, but with turnover within the board things don’t always follow procedure,” he said Wednesday.
McCue suggested the working session of the boards involved as an “unofficial bandying about” of ideas in a “roll-up-the-sleeves” setting.
Selectman Bruce Young agreed that such a session would be a constructive one.
“That would also give us the chance to work with the representative of the Recreation Committee on firming up and establishing what the duties and responsibilities of a professional recreation director,” Young said.
Resident Audrey Flanagan also urged the working session because members of the individual Recreation, Parks and Fields, Memorial Field and Town Forest committees are passionate about what they are doing.
“Right now, the first step in the process is agreeing to these goals that were set for us seven years ago by a different board,” McGahan said.
“These are preliminary discussions,” Selectman Kenny Mitchell agreed. “Anything we do is going to take a process, it’s not going to happen overnight.”
Phil Clemons, one of three members of the Town Forest Committee, said that as the town forest has become a conservation property, it is redundant.
“We crave not being on the committee anymore, because there’s really nothing to do,” Clemons said. “That would be the easiest thing of all to have it just fade away.”
The natural resources goal simply coordinates town goals with state regulations.
“I’ve had a lot of people calling me concerned that motor bikes and ATVs are [being driven] where they should not be,” McGahan said July 26. “Obviously we want to enforce our state regulations for those.”
Selectman Don Howard said Tuesday night that he does not believe there is space in town for permitting off-road vehicles and insurance requirements would be prohibitive.