HANSON — The Recreation Commission voted Monday, Aug. 7 to present a warrant article before Town Meeting to reduce the recreation director’s position to 20 hours, as they address what they deem a more pressing problem — facilities upgrades and repairs at Camp Kiwanee.
The 4-0 vote — members Diane Cohen, Rachel Gross and John Zucco were unable to attend — reflects the commission’s continued commitment to programs, they said, while addressing needed repairs. The commission is slated to meet again at 6 p.m., Monday, Aug. 14.
“I do not think we’re going to get away with not having a director,” Chairman Annmarie Bouzan said. “I understand that … I feel like the money aspect of this is really important. But we have to come to a happy medium, so maybe we have a facilities manager that comes in and, for the moment, they can only work 19 hours — that’s not enough.”
Member Brian Smith argued the commission would be better off going to a part-time director and save the full-time costs for the facilities manager they need.
That’s where a Town Meeting warrant would be needed, because the recreation director’s job description as voted at last year’s October special Town Meeting reads 35 to 40 hours.
“That’s going back to Town Meeting and saying, ‘We want to change this at Town Meeting to a 20-hour position,’” Bouzan said.
Smith also argued it would be easier to hire a recreation director on a part-time basis than a part-time facilities manager.
“I really tossed this around because I just feel like we need what we need,” Bouzan said. “The bottom line is if there was somebody here that knows about [managing buildings] … it would benefit the town and the camp at the same time.”
“The facilities are much more important at this time,” member Theresa Cocio said. “Caretakers can’t do everything.”
Members plan to contact an architect to perform an assessment of the repair needs the commission can prioritize and include in an updated job description for a full-time facilities manager position — paid on an hourly basis — to either serve the Recreation Department or to be shared with other town departments.
There is already a facilities manager position listed with the town’s Wage and Personnel Board, so once the job description is ironed out, commissioners said all that would be needed would be to hire someone.
That would ultimately be a Wage and Personnel decision.
Bouzan said she has presented a draft of such a job description to Town Administrator Michael McCue, who has forwarded a copy to Wage and Personnel Chairman and Selectman Kenny Mitchell and to Selectmen Chairman Jim McGahan.
“It’s not like we’re reinventing the wheel here, so we don’t need to go to Town Meeting to get that job approved,” she said. “It’s just kind of trying to find funding for it.”
Bouzan said McCue and selectmen are asking the commission to expand on the list already presented in the job description.
“We need this more than anything else,” Smith said. “If we had another event coordinator and then put that money from the director’s position [it could make the difference in hiring a facilities manager].”
“This place has run for how many years without it,” Cocio agreed.
Smith said the camp’s seasonal use makes it feasible to share such a manager with other departments if necessary.
“If we put somebody full time on this, maybe in a year, you get a lot of repairs done,” Smith said. “After that, it’s maintaining.”
A priority list or repairs, which a consultant can help with, can help the commission compile a matrix, Bouzan said.
“I just feel that’s what we need right now, because we’re out in left field,” she said. “We’re catching stuff and screening cabins and looking at septic designs. Honestly, I don’t think we have a part-time crew that could do half the major things that are on these [repair] lists.”
That’s where a facilities manager’s expertise in knowing how to prioritize and when to seek contractors to do work would be important, according to Smith.
Commission members also argued the manager could also effectively prioritize and assign repairs as well as work on grants for more expensive repairs.
The commission also made its formal vote to accept the resignation, effective July 24, of former Recreation Director Marybeth MacKay, which had not been done previously because the resignation was received the day of the meeting and could not officially be placed on the agenda.
In other business, the commission discussed $78,000 in Community Preservation funds earmarked for the north campground, but which come with restrictions on its use.
“I thought it might be in the best interest of the Recreation Commission to just return the money saying we can’t use it right now and go for a bigger grant for the gatehouse,” Bouzan said.
No decision on the funds have been made at this time.
The previous commission had accepted the funds in 2014 or 2015, she pointed out noting that needs at the south campground is also a bigger priority right now. The funds must be used for materials only on exterior work on the cabins and the north end is not used as extensively right now.
While the commission need only use a portion of the funds in the first year to retain it, the restrictions limit the use to where it is least needed, members agreed.
“I don’t want to hold onto this money when they can use it on other funding sources,” Bouzan said. She said she will email CPC Chairman Thomas J. Hickey for some guidance on the issue.