WHITMAN — A late end date to the school year and a low number of signups for the first school summer vacation week, has the Recreation Commission eyeing a July 4 start to the summer park program.
The Recreation Commission, meeting on Thursday, March 3 also discussed a potential end date of Aug. 13.
Member Michelle LaMattina, who chaired the meeting, suggested asking park program staff about their availability for an extra week. Many of the program employees are college students, and there is a need to determine how long they are available. The number of counselors has a bearing on how many children can be accepted.
“With the outcome we had last year, we are expecting a lot more kids,” said Gabby Callahan, who runs the camp program. She noted that, while there have been years when the program only ran five weeks, so either six or seven would work.
“I think we’re going to have a really strong program this year, that is rebuilding,” LaMattina said. “I think it’s only going to get better.”
The ability to make plans for the weeks the programs are operating just became a little easier, as more members have been found to replace some departing commissioners.
Selectmen representative to the Recreation Commission Dan Salvucci, briefly attending the meeting, saying his attendance was due to an issue the commission was having in gathering a quorum for meetings. He outlined, as he did for the Board of Selectmen Tuesday, March 2, how he and Town Administrator Lincoln Heineman had made some phone calls in an attempt to attract some new volunteers to help out at Recreation meetings.
I don’t usually go to meetings of boards or committees I’m a liaison to … unless I’m asked for, or there’s a issue that I can help out with,” Salvucci said. “This is your board and [as] with any other board, they do such great work, that why would I interfere?”
Salvucci noted that, without a full board, the Recreation Commission could not effectively plan for summer programs.
“The reason I’m here is to let you know that what you do is very, very, very important and the members of your commission need to show up at all your meetings, and make sure your programs work,” he said. “I’m just glad you have a full board now.”
Salvucci also mentioned an article planned for Town Meeting that would permit associate members to step in and vote at a meeting when a quorum of regular voting members is not present.
“There are a few [other boards in town] that are like that Chairman Michelle LaMattina said.
Member Kathleen Woodward said the commission’s fiscal 2022 budget is balanced with funds available for programs that are planned to start off the summer.
“As we know, we didn’t have the programs the prior year so we were basically running on empty, so it’s nice to have something to help start us off with,” she said.
The proposed fiscal 2023 Recreation budget keeps the director’s salary at the same level and the pool line increased to $10,000 — mainly for maintenance issues — a $2,500 increase is also being asked for the needed July 4 program and other activities funding.
Four town organizations use town fields, W-H Youth Soccer, W-H Softball, W-H Lacrosse and Whitman Little League, and are in the process of determining their needs for the year so Woodward can organize schedules.
An apprentice counselor training program for rising eighth-graders is also being considered for the park program.