Recreation Budget Still Under Finance Committee Review

By Meredith McCulloch

Finance Committee members continued to debate the Recreation Commission budget at their meeting on February 2.

The previous Monday the Selectmen had voted to support a recommendation by Town Manager Rick Reed that two staff positions, now supported by the revolving fund, be funded or partially funded through the tax levy.  This would shift the staffing cost for the Teen Center and one-half the Recreation Program Coordinator to the operating budget. The Selectmen agreed to support this change but saw it as a short-term solution.

However, the Finance Committee still has concerns. Since early on in the budget process, the Finance Committee has sought to have fees from Recreation programs alone support the programs including Springs Brook Park. Income was higher when the park was open to nonresidents, but crowding in the park began to drive away Bedford users.  A current plan would have higher annual fees for non-residents in hopes of maintaining revenue and continuing to provide a service to local visitors.

On Thursday night some members were seeking a long-range plan that would demonstrate whether the programs could be fully funded by fees. Others believed that the Teen Center shouldn’t necessarily be supported by the Recreation Department revolving fund. Public comment at a recent Selectmen’s meeting and on social media show strong support, and a nascent “Friends” group has been formed.

Much of the debate has centered sustaining Springs Brook Park and at one point the possibility of closing the park had been considered. Currently, a Tuesday-Saturday schedule is planned, and the

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