By Peter Manning with Meredith McCulloch
Springs Brook Park delivered one final presentation to the Selectmen on January 22, 2018, in preparation for the next Monday’s budget meeting. Three alternatives were presented to counter the proposed $90,000 subsidy:
- Springs Brook closes to all but Summer Adventures,
- Springs Brook closes in all capacities to open instead as a sprinkler park,
- or Springs Brook resumes operations as usual without a concession stand.
Only the first alternative was given any serious thought.
Recreation Director Amy Hamilton spoke on the issues. She pushed back on nearly all fronts, stressing that the club should open under the same parameters as last season, requesting the Selectmen grant Springs Brook the full $90,000. Selectman Ed Pierce offered several comments on raising membership fees, most notably for the Bedford Summer Adventures program. Hamilton advised against it.
As of right now, Summer Adventures nets Springs Brook ~$26,000. Pierce remarked that the numbers simply do not add up. Hamilton stressed that if Summer Adventure fees go up, people will drop out. Several board members admitted that the value of swim lessons far surpasses that monetary loss and should be absorbed.
Several ideas were bounced around to increase Springs Brook viability. The Park has in the past been able to support the programs from fees, but attendance has been down and the causes are not clear.
Last year, Springs Brook received an $80,000 subsidy. The Selectmen felt comfortable enough doing the same for the 2019 season. They decided to consider the additional amount along with contingency requests from other departments the following Monday. In the end, the Selectmen left the amount for Recreation at the $80,000 subsidy.
In a telephone conversation on February 8, Recreation Director Amy Hamilton said the hope is that additional fees will cover the $10,000 shortfall. She said the reasons for fewer memberships last year are unclear. It could be due to a demographic shift, lifestyle changes, or other out-of-town options. When asked if people worried about the water clarity, Hamilton explained that after a period of heavy use the sand may be stirred up, but that the water is checked weekly and there hasn’t been any concern about bacteria for years.