HANSON — The town’s Recreation Commission is continuing its review of a business plan as well as policies and procedures. Discussion of increasing revenue was the focus of the panel’s work on its draft policies on Tuesday, Aug. 13.
Member Juvelyn Hartwig said the changes are important, not only to increase revenue, “which is huge for us,” but also for increasing community and business partnerships, while being mindful of the nonprofit status of Camp Kiwanee.
Improving facilities was also cited as an important goal.
Hartwig suggested a 10-percent annual increase in revenue was the short-term goal for which the commission should strive.
The financial plan includes a forecast budget of more than $300,000 for the next fiscal year, including a $53,000 debt payment on septic repairs, that the commission hopes will be resolved at the October Town Meeting. But Hartwig suggested the commission’s goal should be $300,000 in revenue next year.
Recreation Director William Boyle pointed out that, if 10-percent growth was maintained over five years, in the final year revenue would be close to $250,000.
But Committee member Brian Fruzzetti argued for a more conservative goal of, perhaps 3 percent a year and build up from there over time.
“I think if you set yourself up for 10 percent right out of the gate … revenue could fall off a cliff,” he said. “I don’t want it to be overpromised.”
Selectman Matt Dyer, the board’s liaison to the Recreation Commission agreed that, in the event of a shortfall at a 10-percent goal, the town would be hesitant to bail them out again.
Boosting Kayak rentals at Cranberry Cove, such as including it in a family membership for $125, was also suggested by Hartwig.
“If people see the kayaks out there, they’ll start to ask questions,” she said. “Then the Cove experience becomes swimming and kayaking, so you’re getting more for your money.”
Dyer also said that the kayaks are not advertised as they should be.
Installation of broadband WiFi was pointed to as a key component in attracting bookings of Needles Lodge for corporate meetings or team-building outings.
While she cautioned that such rentals should not be the main goal, Hartwig said they could be an important part of meeting revenue goals.
“We really need to have a real plan, where it’s not just talking about, ‘Oh, we should be doing this,’” she said about getting the word out about programs like the upcoming Fun Day.
“I think it’s good that we’ve identified a shortcoming in our advertising,” Dyer said. “I think it might be really useful to start breaking those down tonight and start talking about how we should advertise the camp for a wedding. … But, also, we need to look at the hanging fruit — why aren’t there any fliers in the foyer saying, ‘Rent the Lodge!’”
When there are other events there, he said a flier should be available to outline the amenities of the lodge for those who are attending and looking for a venue for other events.
Rental policies were also discussed in connection with a request from St. Joseph the Worker Church for free passes to the Cove for the church’s vacation Bible school counselors. Current policy requires an overnight cabin rental to obtain such free passes and nonprofits already pay a minimum hourly rate when voted on by the Recreation commission and Board of Selectmen, member Joan Fruzzetti said.
“We are supposed to be a benefit for the town,” Hartwig said. “This facility is supposed to benefit the community.”
She noted that the Boy and Girl Scouts receive such benefits when they request to use Kiwanee, suggesting that the commission look into why they receive that benefit and others do not — while recognizing the work the Scout organizations do for Camp Kiwanee in terms of volunteer work at the facility.
“My thought was that we have a better way to communicate for next year,” Hartwig said.
The policies and procedures are still under revision
“St. Joe’s Church is great, their VBS is great, but we have to remember, they’re charging families to utilize their services and they’re asking to come here for free,” Dyer said. “I think this is a hiccough year, and we’re hitting the reset button with this commission.”
He suggested meeting with the church’s vacation Bible school organizers to arrive at an agreement on what would be fair to both organizations.
Hartwig argued that the cost for renting facilities, coupled with the policies and procedures gives nonprofit organizations reason to question why they should try to use Camp Kiwanee.
“We have to create a path to make it easier for some of these folks to come in,” she said.
Joan Fruzzetti said posting photos of the facility on social media could help advertise the camp might be helpful.
“Pictures do a lot,” she said.
Procedures and policies on the lodge rental cost for birthday parties; for smoking — and e-cigarette/vaping use — on Kiwanee property; as well as camp employees’ clocking in without interrupting wedding function use of the office, is also under review. Brian Fruzzetti argued that any changes to the procedures keep in mind that requiring employees to clock in before doing any work provides protection for the commission and the town in the event that a worker is injured on the job.