The Block Island Times

Town Council requests meeting with Rec Board

By Stephanie Turaj | Dec 26, 2013

“Here’s an opportunity to have communication. The door is open,” said Recreation Board President John Cullen at a board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 17.

Cullen was referring to an upcoming Town Council meeting on Jan. 8, with the members of the Recreation Board. The council requested a meeting with the board to address several recreation-related issues, including revising the board’s mission statement and discussing the board’s use of social media to promote events.

“I think we need to give the Town Council a draft of what we’ve accomplished over the years,” said board member Annie Hall, and others agreed. At its monthly meeting in November, the board members had expressed some frustration with the sitting council, saying their objectives were not being heard.

The board also plans to make a second attempt at asking the town to hire a recreation assistant.

This request would be a formal budget request for the town’s fiscal year 2014/2015 (begins July 1, 2014). At this year’s financial town meeting, in May, the Recreation Board had made this same request, but town voters denied it in a 37-53 vote.

A recreation assistant would work with Recreation Director Robbie Closter, and also organize another triathlon in addition to the one currently held in the summer.

“If you want more programming, you can’t have everything at once. You can’t have all that met without creating a larger than 40-hour position,” said Closter.

“This department has the ability to grow. The benefit isn’t just for recreation. It’s for everybody, including the town,” said Cullen.

This was Cullen’s last board meeting, as he has chosen not to run for another term. He said at a meeting last month his reason for leaving: “I’ve spent countless hours advising the [Town] Council, and over several different councils, and they just don’t seem to take our advice, and after a while you have to say, ‘What am I doing here?’”

At the Dec. 17 meeting, Closter also reported to the board that the 2014 triathlon, held in the summer each year, will begin at 9 a.m. This is an earlier time than previous years, and Closter said he has permission from Interstate Navigation to charter a 7 a.m. ferry.

“I think this is better for the community,” he said, explaining that it will alleviate traffic congestion later in the day, when the island is busiest.

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