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Parks & Rec Commission looks at budget, pre-Boston Marathon vendor process

by | Feb 13, 2024 | Featured: News, News

Ahead of a presentation before the Select Board, Park & Recreation Director Jon Lewitus reviewed the proposed fiscal year 2025 personnel and expense budget line items with the Parks & Rec Commission at Tuesday’s meeting.

The totals are $223,322 for personnel and $37,100 for expenses, up from $177,220 and $22,000, respectively, from fiscal year 2024.

Lewitus said the personnel line item includes a vacant position increasing from 50 to 80 hours per week and an increase in beach staff salaries and hours worked.

He explained that his original request had his salary as director as well as two program coordinator salaries being paid out of the general fund. Advice from the Select Board meant revising that approach and having percentages of those pays come from revolving accounts.

Currently, there is an offer out to someone for program coordinator. That person’s hire will be announced once background checks are done and negotiations finalized, Lewitus said.

Increases in expenses are attributed to holiday lights, a contractor to handle dog waste and fountain maintenance, the director said.

Park & Rec Commission chair Dan Terry acknowledged that Lewitus took over as director and quickly was thrown into the budget process while also having to deal with turnover and navigating to get onto systems.

“It was probably frustrating, but on a positive note, he kind of did it his way,” Terry said, setting him up for future success “based on his understanding of municipal finance and level of experience.”

Marathon-related use of Town Common discussed

A lot of the meeting was devoted to talking about the weekend celebration April 13-14 to mark the 100th start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton.

Lewitus displayed marketing materials like a webpage and flyer and discussed the process for vendors to apply for participation in the pre-Marathon events.

General information will be available on the marathon and relevant links.

“I’m psyched we’re moving forward having events on the [Town] Common and this year building momentum,” Terry said.

Food vendors and other vendors (entertainment, merchants, local groups, etc.) will be able to fill out an application starting Feb. 14 at 10 a.m. on the department’s website for consideration.

Lewitus said that applying for a space is not a guarantee the vendor will reserve a spot. Applicants will be contacted by March 6 if selected. The hours for both days are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with Saturday geared more toward children’s activities. Setup is from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

On Marathon Day, April 15, a couple of vendors “conducive to early morning food” like coffee, pastries and doughnuts will be invited, Lewitus said.

The director noted that there is no electricity available for vendors, which prompted a discussion among commissioners.

Terry said he believes there is enough electricity and that outlets exist on light posts, while commissioner member Laura Hanson talked about the noise and wires of generators not being favorable.

Ultimately, the commission decided that a question be placed on the application about electricity needs to get a better sense of how many vendors would require it.

At the next meeting on Feb. 27, the commission will look at a proposed vendor layout map to see if “the flow makes sense,” Lewitus said.

Hanson noted it would make sense to have food vendors closer to the gazebo and in one area rather than “scattered” around.

Registration, band schedule among topics

In other business, the director said registration for summer programs had begun and revenues are matching last year’s total at this time. Some activities are sold out. New offerings include STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs and instructional use of the pickleball and tennis courts as well as tournaments.

Pickleball courts open on May 31, the director said. “It’s going to be awesome.”

Terry said he did not want the director to have to choose which groups could receive donations for a week of playground camp, gift certificates, beach passes, etc.

The issue will be discussed at the next meeting on Feb. 27.

Hanson said the list of bands to perform this summer as part of the Concerts on the Common series is nearly done. However, Terry said he preferred one member not enter into contracts with performers on behalf of the entire board.

“It should come to the commission for our approval,” the chair said. “I want this to be a team thing.”

Lewitus said his office received 20-25 bands expressing interest in performing in the summer series. He said he would take guidance from the full commission on the selection process.

He added that if Hanson had a schedule arranged, the selection process is something they could look at for future seasons.

Hanson said she would show the director a spreadsheet of what she had in mind, and they could discuss it.

The commissioners also approved requests for use of the Town Common.

Linda Chuss had a request approved for April 6 from 9 a.m. to noon for volunteers to pick up yellow trash bags and be assigned areas of town to pick up trash and clean the streets prior to the Boston Marathon. Last year, there were 35-40 participants. The Department of Public Works picks up the bags on Monday. Rain date is April 7 from noon to 3 p.m.

Also approved was a request from Karen Thayer Bograd to have a fishing derby for the Cub Scouts on the Sandy Beach property on April 24 from 4-8 p.m.

Safety around water is a priority, Lewitus said. Bograd replied that some Hopkinton scouts and council members are certified lifeguards and would attend the event.

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