Parks & Rec update: Pavilion, programs, passes, benches and budgets

| Cathy Gregory |

The Parks and Recreation Committee held their monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, via Zoom.  Sarah Rodriguez, Parks & Recreation Director and staff liaison to the committee, provided members with several updates.

Director Rodriguez touched on a variety of programs, including flag football, yoga in the park, junior track, and summer camps.  Gray /New Gloucester joint programs include basketball and soccer clinics, a sports mix-up, and volleyball.

Royal River Conservation Trust and the Gray New Gloucester Little League (GNGLL) met with some of the people who are concerned about their proposed project in the Intervale.  GNGLL is taking a “60 day pause” on the Intervale project to re-evaluate the Bennett Road site and other options for their proposed three ballfields.  Parks and Recreation Committee Chair, Kathleen Potter, commented that this is not a Town project.

Benches at the Fairgrounds are still being considered.  Sarah Rodriguez is working with Public Works Director Ted Shane to ensure that benches will not create mowing or trimming issues for his department. 

The Town plans to dedicate the pavilion at the fairgrounds to Harvey Price, the beloved former Town Parks & Recreation Director, whose vision resulted in building both the playground and pavilion.  The committee is hopeful they will be able to have the ceremony in July when Harvey is expected to vacation in Maine.

Sarah Rodriguez is in the process of discussing budget matters with new Town Manager Christine Landes.  The Parks & Recreation Committee continues to discuss investment priorities.  Kathleen Potter recommended picking one or two items from the previous list to put forward on Parks & Recreation’s CIP proposal.

The group discussed plans for Rowe Station rehabilitation including current resources, assessment of need, donation of services, and possible sharing of a shed between the Town and GNGLL.

Parks & Recreation is actively exploring a variety of opportunities including grants, indoor recreation space, trail connections, publicly accessible water points, and a pass to Outlet Beach.  Kathleen Potter was excited to hear about the beach pass as, in the past, the Friends of the Library has been able to provide passes to the Wildlife Park but not to the beach.  Other pass opportunities were suggested, including the new Children’s Museum and the Maine Maritime Museum.  The Friends of the Library will investigate.

Fairground usage was discussed, including rental, prioritizing our Town recreation programs, and parking.  Concerns also included high usage of the port-a-potties and disposal for dog poop.

The Fairgrounds playground on a June afternoon