Bethel panel makes recommendations on town recreation
Bethel selectmen Monday accepted a report from the Ad Hoc Recreation Facilities Committee that includes such recommendations as hiring a part-time recreation director, using the Ethel Bisbee School property as a park for younger children and crafting a “comprehensive plan” for recreation at Davis Park.
The committee had been asked to make recommendations regarding all town recreation facilities. As part of the process they met with landowners, town and school officials and other organizations.
Among their recommendations:
A comprehensive plan, at an estimated cost of $15,000, should be crafted for Davis Park “that identifies setbacks and other environmental constraints, areas that should be preserved as they are, and areas that are appropriate for further development. This will prevent situations like the current struggle to get a basketball park permitted and conflicts of use.” Parking is also needed for the skatepark, and there may be opportunities to acquire land at either end of Davis Park.
The Ethel Bisbee School property could become a 1.5-acre park with a multipurpose field and playground. “Although it could accommodate a basketball court and other facilities, it is very close to several houses and attracting parents and younger children is more appropriate.”
Coordination with SAD 44 to keep fields at Telstar better maintained and mowed through the summer would allow more use during the summer, and the possibility of creating more fields.
Baseball diamonds at Crescent Park could be used more in the summer with some upgrading and more consistent maintenance.
An arrangement with Gould Academy, which is generous in allowing use of its baseball field, might be formalized in the short term so teams can rely on the field.
Angevine Park is underutilized. Minor upgrades such as charcoal grills and picnic table shelters would make it more appealing. Connecting with the Bethel Pathway will also increase use.
The 150 acres of the Mount Will Town Forest has room for other recreation activities without affecting the harvesting of the woodlot. It could be a possible site for a dog park if taxpayers ever change their minds about it.
The town could hire a part-time recreation director. “This would be a more cost-effective way of creating more recreational opportunities than creating additional facilities,” by leveraging resources worth more than an estimated salary of $20,000-$30,000 annually. Other area towns of similar size have such a position.
The town could continue to investigate the possibility of creating new ball fields on the American Legion property on Vernon Street.
Town Manager Jim Doar said town officials will bring the idea of a recreation director to the Budget Committee, and that any concrete proposals that eventually "gain traction and impact the budget" will also go to the committee.
The Ad Hoc Committee Recreation Committee members are Mike Steven, Jessie Seymour Perkins, Todd Wheeler, Debra Borchardt, Jack Cross, Edie Okenquist and Landon Fake.