Lack of rec board meetings stymies community center use

TREMONT — There are a few things that need to be taken care of by the town’s recreation board, but its members seem to have a problem convening. 

Members of the Select Board were trying to solve a problem with the town’s community center, which is located at the school, during their meeting on Tuesday, but realized they were somewhat hogtied without the support of the town’s recreation board.  

Select Board members authorized use of the community center in June after closing it to the public in March of 2020 in response to the pandemic. A recent notice from the school asked that any/all visitors to the school or community center be approved by Principal Jandrea True. 

“I know the rec board is having trouble meeting, but maybe we can do something about changing the bylaws,” said Jamie Thurlow, chairman of the Select Board. “The best thing to do is to somehow get the rec board to meet.” 

Jessica Bass, who serves as the chairwoman of the recreation board, has come before the Select Board in the past asking for support in gathering fellow members. There are five members of the recreation board, all appointed for three-year terms. 

“We’re not going to meet,” said Bass, explaining she has been borderline harassing the other members to participate. “Typically, when I call a meeting, the most I can get to meet is two… My recommendation is to terminate all of our seats and reappoint a three-member board.” 

Discussion of the recreation board absenteeism was a side conversation from the primary issue of addressing authorized use of the community center. Harbor House Executive Director Ingrid Kashmar attended the meeting to ask the Select Board if her organization could use the community center for a six-week youth basketball program, when needed.  

“We were told no we couldn’t because we were not a town resident,” she explained to the board. “It’s rare for us to need it, but it doesn’t seem to align if we’re being paid (by the town) to provide programming but we can’t use the building.” 

Most Harbor House athletic programs take place at Pemetic Elementary School and are open to Southwest Harbor and Tremont children. Both towns give the organization money as part of their nonprofit allotments each year at town meeting.  

Bass explained the reason for the pushback. 

“The bylaws say you can’t have a reoccurring reservation,” she said, adding that could be changed. “But again, the rec board does not meet. How can we move forward?” 

Thurlow suggested the rec board set up a meeting with the help of Town Manager Jesse Dunbar to see if they could make any progress and report back to the Select Board at its next meeting. 

Access to the community center has been managed by Gott’s Store and by the staff at Bass Harbor Memorial Library, according to Bass. There is a book to reserve the space and a key has been available at the store.  

“There’s been lots of confusion about who has the key,” she added. “Books and keys are at Gott’s Store,” said Bass. “There’s been multiple issues with the inefficiency of that system.” 

In order to make things easier, Thurlow asked if any keys and books associated with the center could be brought to the town office. Select Board members then voted to keep the community center open to the public, pending approval from school principal True.  

Those interested in using the community center are asked to contact the town office.  

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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