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Independent Thoughts: Parks & Rec optimistic summer programs pan out

by | Jun 3, 2020 | Featured

Generations of Hopkinton children have grown up spending parts of their summers at the Parks & Recreation’s Summer Playground Group, the town’s basketball camps and Sandy Beach.

It’s not yet clear what forms those activities will take this summer.

At its May 19 meeting, the Select Board voted to lift the town’s hiring freeze so that Parks & Rec could begin the process of hiring counselors for the Playground Group and lifeguards for Sandy Beach, acting on a request from Parks & Recreation Commission chair Dan Terry.

But Terry made it clear that the department was waiting for further guidance from the state as well as the town’s Health Department.

The beach is open for residents to use, but, per usual, it will not be staffed with lifeguards until at least the final week of June. According to Parks & Rec director Jay Guelfi, the department considered not staffing it at all this year but changed its mind after hearing from residents.

“A month ago we were kind of working under the assumption that we wouldn’t open the beach at all this year,” he said. “But a lot of the residents down there, in light of what happened last spring [when a child drowned], there’s still a lot of folks down there that are pretty traumatized by it.

“So a lot of the residents called me and Dan as well about the need to staff that beach for the sake of public safety. Because whether or not the beach is open officially, people are going to swim there, so they said the town should really think about staffing the beach, for that purpose. So we do intend to staff the beach.”

Still to be determined is how many people will be allowed at the beach at one time in order to ensure social distancing, and who will enforce those types of rules.

“We have a lot to work out in the next few weeks,” Guelfi said.

Normally the Playground Group makes regular visits to Sandy Beach, but Guelfi said those visits will not take place this summer.

Guelfi said his department has received a large number of calls about the Playground Group — most wondering if the sessions will happen, while some who have already registered requesting to withdraw. He expects the camps to take place, but he needs to find out what health guidelines his department will need to follow before determining what changes might need to be made.

“While we anticipate having these programs in some way, shape or form, I don’t know exactly what that’s going to look and feel like yet,” Guelfi said. “But we would like to offer residents that program because we know people really enjoy it and we know that a lot of folks, working parents, need those programs to drop their kids off each day. We understand that. So we’re going to try to figure that out.”

As for the basketball camps (as well as volleyball), which are supervised by the Hopkinton High School varsity coaches, the first determination is if the schools will allow Parks & Rec to use the gyms. Then the Health Department will make its recommendations.

“It’s so fluid from day to day,” Guelfi said. “Tomorrow we could talk again and there could be whole new rules and information. I could see us maybe pushing clinics [back a few weeks]. I know a lot of towns have just made the decision to cancel a lot of things. We really don’t want to do that yet. We’re still moving forward as if we’re going to have these. But it’s day to day.”

Check the Parks & Rec website (hopkintonma.myrec.com) for updated information.

Farmers Market opens June 7

The Hopkinton Farmers Market is scheduled to open June 7 on the Town Common and run every Sunday through Oct. 11 from 1-5 p.m.

“Gov. [Charlie] Baker listed Farmers Markets as essential, so we have the permission from the governor to go ahead,” explained organizer Laura Davis. “I put together an individual plan for our market and met with the [Hopkinton] Board of Health, and they approved our plan to move ahead.”

There will be some differences. Most notably, visitors will enter at a designated location in order to restrict the number of attendees at a time. Vendors and customers will be required to wear masks. Vendors also will wear gloves and have tables in front of their tents to establish some separation from customers.

The Board of Health restricted the market to only food vendors, so the artisans will not return at the start. However, there will be masks made by Hopkinton residents available for sale, with proceeds going to local organizations Project Just Because and the Mental Health Collaborative.

Customers are encouraged to pre-order for quick pickup, or pay by touchless credit card or with exact change to minimize contact. The market’s website (hopkintonfarmersmarket.com) has links to all vendors.

“We will have veggies, grass-fed meats, free-range eggs, artisanal bread, fudge, honey, maple syrup and fresh fish,” Davis said, noting that all the vendors were supportive of returning. “Everybody’s on board for opening day.”

Boy Scouts breakfast still on hold

Organizers for the Boy Scout Troop 4 Pancake Breakfast, which was scheduled for April 4 but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, remain hopeful the annual event will be held this year.

In a letter to friends and supporters, organizers wrote, “We hope we can continue to count on your support of the Pancake Breakfast and silent auction despite this postponement. This event helps us fund high-adventure trips for Troop 4 Scouts including hiking in our national parks and camping and outdoor adventure opportunities. Your support helps to provide Hopkinton youth with a quality scouting experience that develops future leaders and strengthens our community.”

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