By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Select Board and Board of Public Works met jointly at the SB meeting on 3/14/22 to discuss the roles of the BPW and the Town Administrator in regards to parks and recreation.
Select Board chairperson Bob Espindola said he wanted to discuss the possibility of forming or reforming a parks and recreation committee. He said the issue arose when some members of the Community Preservation Committee had concerns about projects that are using CPC funds for projects in the parks. The BPW members are the parks commissioners, the Town Administrator is responsible for the Recreation Department.
BPW Chairperson Brian Wotton said that the BPW is the open space and recreation committee in town. They are the park commissioners and solely have responsibility for the parks.
“Which essentially is the open space and recreation committee,” said Mr. Wotton.
He said the BPW is careful about how they allocate space in the parks.
The latest projects include a proposal to hard-surface the BMX track, and add pickleball courts.
Mr. Wotton said everybody has ideas, and that’s great, but “nobody ever follows through.”
“We try to work with everybody,” said Mr. Wotton, adding that his board is open to the creation of an advisory board to advise them.
He assured the board that they are careful about the projects they support and keep in mind the many uses of each park. He said the CPC had their input so he did not understand the concern.
“I don’t like to study, study,” said Mr. Wotton. “I like to get things done.”
He explained a little about a couple of the projects. The BMX track, he said, will need less maintenance if it is permanent with a hard surface instead of the clay it is now. It takes a lot of volunteers a lot of hours each year to get it going for the season and to maintain it.
As those parents start getting older, he said, they will be less involved and the track will eventually level out and not be used without constant attention.
A paved track is “good for the town,” said Mr. Wotton and will be there for years without requiring all those volunteer hours.
He said the pickleball members are 200 strong and asked for six courts. He said the BPW compromised with them and agreed to four.
Mr. Espindola said the SB never received the materials that the BPW sent to the CPC. He said the CPC advises the Select Board and they make decisions based on their recommendations and what is good for the town as a whole.
BPW superintendent Vinnie Furtado told the board that all the CPC recommendations include plans and consultation with other committees and departments as necessary, such as Conservation Commission and Planning Department.
Mr. Espindola said the issue was not the information that went to the CPC, but more about the concept of a master plan for parks, open space, etc., to make sure the projects are not interfering with some larger plan.’
“Things do change over time,” said Mr. Espindola.
Mr. Wotton said the BPW does monitor open space and how the various parks are used. He said adding the pickleball courts to Livesey Park will max out the hard surface there. He said all the parks are being used by various teams for baseball and softball; and basketball courts are also used by residents.
“The BPW is working more in the parks in the last three years than the last 15 years,” said Mr. Wotton. “We’ve definitely been doing our part.
BPW member Marcus Ferro reminded the Select Board that the parks department operates on a “shoestring budget” and Mr. Wotton noted it has only one employee.
The boards also briefly talked about the town acquiring open space, with BPW member Robert “Hoppy” Hobson saying the town missed an opportunity to buy a big property on Sconticut Neck Road and instead assigned its right of first refusal to the Buzzards Bay Coalition.
Mr. Espindola noted that the separate open space committee was created to help the town be eligible for certain grants.
He said the acquisition of property was separate from the park commissioners’ duties.
The two boards discussed the size of the committee, with nine members recommended by Mr. Espindola.
In the end he said he would leave it up to the BPW to contact the SB for next steps.
Mr. Wotton encouraged any members of the public who want to be on the new committee to contact Becky Vento at the BPW.
In other business the board approved the Father’s Day Road Race for Sunday, 6/19 at 9 a.m. The race will start on Adams Street near Bellevue Street and end at Hastings Middle School. The race will only include a 5K. The race was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic.
The board also approved Saturday, June 26 for a Fairhaven’s Got Pride event. Last year an impromptu event was held after some controversy in a Select Board meeting over the flying/ hanging of the rainbow flag at town hall resulted in the refusal of the request to fly the flag.
This year, Kyle Batemen and Jessica Fidalgo approached the board to make a more formal request, and hopefully make it an annual event.
The event will include speakers, information tables, and a chance for members of the public to share their stories. It will be held in front of Fairhaven town hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The group will coordinate with the police department and BPW.
The board did not discuss the flag policy or a request to fly the rainbow Pride Flag, but tabled those discussions because SB member Stasia Powers did not attend the meeting because her father unexpectedly passed away this week. Some other agenda items were also tabled so she could weigh in on them.
Although it was not announced at the meeting, Ms. Graves did allude to it at least once: Angelina “Angie” Lopes Ellison has inked the deal with the town and will start as Town Administrator on April 4. Mr. Espindola announced it on Facebook.
Click here to download the entire 3/17/22 issue: 03-17-22 FHSWalkout
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