Summer program generates debate
Council to seek meeting with recreation commission following complaints, injury
The summer recreation program in Spaniard’s Bay was a topic of heated discussion at last week’s council meeting following a litany of complaints from parents and a report that one young participant suffered a broken elbow.
There were accusations that the children of those on the commission were given preferential treatment during the registration process, that some young people from the town were unable to register because some of the
Deputy Mayor Tony Menchions
alloted spaces were filled by non-residents, and that summer staff were not providing adequate supervision and programming for the children.
There were also stories of children receiving serious burns following long periods of unprotected exposure to the sun.
The discussion ensued after Coun. Brenda Seymour, council’s liaison with the town’s recreation commission, introduced an e-mail written by commission co-chair Clarence M. Noseworthy. The e-mail was written to the town’s recreation director, and copied to other commission and town officials.
‘ Burned to a crisp’
Noseworthy wrote that parents were complaining that summer staff were “in the kitchen doing crosswords, texting or whatever” instead of super- vising the roughly 60 children enrolled in the program.
He said parents also complained that not enough staff were supervising children in the playground, and that many children had suffered sunburns.
“ Most kids on Friday past were burned to a crisp, including my two kids,” Noseworthy wrote.
He added that one child sustained a broken elbow, and he raised concerns that he was not notified of the incident.
“ We heard it through other parents,” Noseworthy wrote.
Councillers expressed alarm about Noseworthy’s assessment of the program.
“It’s time we reassess … the whole system,” said Seymour.
Mayor John W. Drover said he received calls from upset parents with complaints about what he described as an “unfair” registration process.
When contacted by The Compass, Noseworthy confirmed there is a “preregistration” for the children of commission volunteers.
“ The committee would have felt that if people are willing to volunteer their time, it would have been nice for their kids to pre-register. We also felt this could encourage other people to volunteer,” he explained.
When asked if he was comfortable with such a policy, Noseworthy replied: “ I guess people could have concerns.”
Noseworthy described the pro- gram and the summer staff as “great,” and noted “there’s always some things that happen.”
As for non-resident children being registered with the program, Coun. Seymour explained that registration was broadened to “ first come-first serve” after the deadline for resident children had passed.
Town clerk/manager Tony Ryan cautioned against setting restrictions on who can register for the program, since the funding is provided by the federal government.
Meanwhile, Coun. Wayne Smith said it should be the responsibility of parents to apply protective sunscreen to their children; not summer staff.
Drover also criticized Seymour, saying she should have taken a more proactive role on the commission.
“ Brenda should have stepped in and said ‘stop.’ Let’s go to council with this,” said Drover.
Seymour said it’s not her role as a go-between to micromanage the affairs of the commission.
Town clerk/manager Tony Ryan
In the end, council agreed to arrange a meeting with members of the recreation commission to discuss the matter.
District boundary issue still simmering
Members of council continue to express their displeasure at the way the town is divided on the provincial electoral map, with the northern part of the town, including Tilton, represented by Carbonear-Harbour Grace MHA and cabinet minister Jerome Kennedy, and the southern section represented by Port de Grave MHA and Liberal politician Roland Butler.
Some councillors have expressed frustration that the town has struggled to obtain funding for things such as road upgrades, and suggest the political situation may be responsible.
“ We need to get the ball rolling on this,” said Coun. Wayne Smith, who has been at the forefront on this issue. Smith has been quite vocal in recent meetings about what he calls the poor condition of provincial and municipal roads in the area, and the lack of attention being paid to these issues.
Coun. Eric Jewer
Council has been attempting to arrange a meeting with Kennedy.
Garbage disposal concerns
The cost of this year’s spring cleanup topped $40,000, resulting in some councillors wondering how the town can afford to keep up with the increasing cost of garbage collection and disposal.
“ This system is going to bankrupt a lot of towns,” said deputy mayor Tony Menchions.
As part of a shift to regional waste disposal, garbage from Conception Bay North and Trinity South must now be shipped to the Robin Hood Bay waste disposal site in St. John’s.
In recent years, the tipping fee for a tonne of waste has increased from just over $20 to more than $65.
Spaniard’s Bay has budgeted roughly $180,000 for waste disposal this year, said town clerk/ manager Tony Ryan.
Councillors have agreed to look at new ways of reducing the cost of the service, and will look to meet with members of the Upper Island Cove town council in the coming weeks to discuss some options, including the purchase of a new compacting truck between the two municipalities.
Currently, both towns are under contract to the same company. The contract expires in October.
Committee grant increased
Council has agreed to increase its grant to the the town’s special events
Mayor John W. Drover
committee, which runs the annual Lassy Days festival.
Expenses for the festival have now surpassed $ 20,000, up from about $9,000 two or three years ago.
The town has agreed to a grant of $1,500, up from $500 in recent years.
“ I think it would be a discredit if we did not help them in some way,” said Mayor Drover.
Lassy Days started Aug. 1 and concludes Aug. 7.
Discussions about new staff
It could be later this fall before the town makes a decision on the hiring of a new planning and development officer.
The town advertised for the position several months ago, and has received nearly two dozen applications. But the hiring process has slowed this summer, and there’s also talk of adding some new duties to the position.
Meanwhi le, a suggestion by Coun. Sherri Collins that the town hire a new maintenance/ enforcement worker will be studied by the finance committee, with a view towards funding the position in next year’s operating budget.
Housing starts steady
The town has approved the construction of 18 residential dwellings so far this year, which is on par with 2010, when 36 homes were approved, said town clerk/manager Tony Ryan.
Coun. Sherri Collins
Coun. Wayne Smith