HANSON — The new Recreation Commission officially went to work Thursday, Jan. 26, holding its first meeting to hear a review of work Town Administrator Michael McCue has done as interim director, brainstorm possible recreation events and elect officers.
Serving on the new commission are: Brian Fruzzetti, Rachel Gross and Brian Smith through June 30, 2019; John Zucco and Sondra Allen through June 30, 2018; and Annmarie Bouzan and Diane Cohen through June 30, 2017.
“I appreciate your stepping up to do this,” McCue said. “It’s always difficult to get people to serve on a board, especially one this large. The fact that we actually have a full seven-member board really does say something and is going to make things a lot easier on me, a lot easier on the town and a lot easier on the board itself.”
Bouzan, who has worked as an administrative assistant at Camp Kiwanee about five years ago, was elected chairman, Gross as the vice chairman and Cohen as the clerk.
Selectmen Bill Scott, who also attended the meeting, indicated he would continue, along with a member of the commission, to help McCue interview candidates for recreation director. He had been appointed by the Board of Selectmen to work on the interviews before while there was no sitting Recreation Commission.
“I will still be willing to be part of that if they want me to do that,” Scott said.
“My intention is to still have you do so,” McCue said. “We try to be a team, we’re all pulling in one direction, hopefully.”
Both McCue and Scott left after McCue’s update, and the commission spent more than an hour discussing policies and procedures as well as possible agenda items for future meetings.
Their concerns in that arena involve security protocols, the enforceability of a ban on firearms even for those licensed to carry, billing oversight, the extensive job description for the recreation director, caterers’ responsibilities, use of social media for marketing, cabin upkeep and the event planning process as a whole.
The commission plans on meeting twice a week until the members feel caught up and then will shift to a twice-monthly meeting schedule.
The public meetings are held at 7 p.m. at Camp Kiwanee’s Needles Lodge.
Fruzzetti of 370 Elm St., is an advertising consultant. Gross of 35 Katy-Did Lane, owns an event marketing company and has worked both on weddings and community events for the past 15 years. Smith of 38 Sandy Terrace is a facilities supervisor for Eversource. Zucco of 101 Glenwood Place is also an entertainment specialist, specializing in corporate and social events. Allen, of 188 Elm St., is a life-long resident who has maintained a family pass at Kiwanee and is active in Boy Scouts. Cohen of 767 Pleasant St., is a teacher who moved to Hanson 18 months ago. Her son has taken swimming lessons at Cranberry Cove for about five years.
“Your experience here at the camp and within the town is going to be beneficial in a liaison area,” Gross told Bouzan during the selection of officers. “I don’t know if I’m ready for that. I would love to review the applications for the director.”
The other commission members agreed that Gross’s professional background would make her a good choice for that role.
McCue provided ethics and open meeting regulation forms and copies of new lodge and cabin rental application forms as well as policies and procedures, all of which were drawn up by town counsel. For discounted contracts, the commission will vote on applications for reduced rates and forward the applications to McCue, who will bring it before the Board of Selectmen for final approval.
The new recreation director will recommend contracts for McCue to sign — as he does with all town contracts.
Rental contracts are more detailed on liability issues that had been a concern in the old contracts.
Selectmen will give final approval to the policies and procedures after the Recreation Commission has a chance to provide feedback.
“There’s an awful lot in there that wasn’t in there before,” McCue said. “What I will consider is some additional information, but by and large, the information you have in front of you — that’s going to stay. … I’m very hesitant to tinker with anything the lawyers gave me.”
McCue also provided an update on maintenance projects at the camp.
He has already done a level-funded budget, including a director’s salary, which was due before the commission met. A part-time employee in the Treasurer-Collector’s office is serving as the temporary administrative assistant to the Recreation Commission.
“I’m taking a bunch of trees down, and it’s not because I don’t like the trees — they’re dead,” he said. “Our fear is … if we get a good enough wind, if we get a heavy snow, they’ll come down and crash on this roof.”
He has consulted with the tree warden and Conservation Commission on which trees should be removed and potential impact on the pond. He also plans for a new septic system for the lodge; caretaker’s cottage and bathhouse have been changed because of the number of trees that would have had to be removed in addition to the high financial cost.
“The beauty of this place, the thing that makes this place unique, is the trees,” McCue said.
The lowest bid had come in $50,000 to $60,000 higher than budgeted so the bids were dismissed. The project is now being approached in phases.
He also plans to have a rotting garage on the property torn down as a liability, possibly within the next couple of weeks. That project, too requires input from the Conservation Commission due to the dry streambed near the gatehouse. A fence between the swimming area and an abutter’s property must also be extended to deal with a trespassing problem on the abutter’s land, but the Conservation Commission must also be consulted on that project, according to McCue.
The Recreation Commission will also have to hire lifeguards for Cranberry Cove in the spring for the upcoming summer swimming season, which starts the day after the last day of school.
“The weddings pay for a lot of things that go on up here, but it has to be a hand-in-hand thing,” Bouzan said. “Why have it here in Hanson for all of us to enjoy if we can’t. I’m really anxious to turn that around and make it so it’s a great place for us.”
Gross said she would like to see farmers’ markets take place at Kiwanee, community pot luck suppers and other community events.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Gross said.