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City recreation panel: Fix rink, hire coordinator

VERGENNES — Members of the Vergennes recreation committee last week asked city council to include in the 2019-2020 budget up to $35,000 to re-grade and pave the skating rink/basketball court off East Street and $15,000 to pay for a part-time recreation coordinator.
Committee representatives Tim Cook and Lynn Rapoport also asked the council for funding for a sign to announce the East Street recreation area as Veterans Park, but attached no specific dollar amount to that recommendation.
The council will begin annual budget work this Tuesday, June 18, and must by the end of June set the 2019-2020 budget and the municipal tax rate needed to support it. This past Tuesday city officials said they expect a positive fund balance to help offset the tax rate, but City Manager Matt Chabot declined to estimate that budget carry-over.
Cook told the council that taking care of the skating rink/hoop court fits in with what the committee has determined should be its central mission.
“The general goal is to take care of what we have,” he said.
Simply repaving of the rink/court would not get the job done, Cook said, because one end of its surface is sinking; thus, the regrading is necessary.
Cook said the $15,000 salary for a recreation coordinator would support a $25 an hour wage for an employee who would work 600 hours. Those hours could be concentrated in the spring, when planning could be done, and then during summer peak hours, he said, and could be “extremely part-time” in the winter.
If there were an employee to supervise more activities, Cook and Rapoport said, such as renting basketballs and skates, the city could earn more revenue from recreation. Rapoport added, however, the recreation coordinator should not spend time trying to fund her/his job, but rather enhancing recreation opportunities and coordinating maintenance.
Both said they hoped the position, which at one point in the past did exist, could be re-established. They added that many adults as well as children use programs and noted the strong support for a recent volunteer work weekend at the East Street park.
Deputy Mayor Lynn Donnelly, also a recreation committee member, said the group was working to create a baseline for the city’s recreation facilities and offerings.
“What our committee is trying to do is get it up to snuff and keep it there,” Donnelly said.

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