The Parks and Recreation Commission said goodbye to Barrington’s retiring recreation director, John Taylor, on Thursday evening at the monthly meeting in the library. He retires Aug. 31.
Several members of the board later in the meeting then lashed out at the decision made by the town manager to conduct a search for a “leisure-services director” to take over the duties handled by Taylor over the past five years. (See Patch story.)
Taylor himself stated his frustration and concern about the impact of this change.
“I have a problem with that,” Taylor said of the search for a director of leisure service set in motion by Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr. “I still hope for a full-time professional with so much still to do.”
In his final written report to the board, Taylor said:
“The future of this program seems to be in jeopardy with the change in the title that suggests the hiring of a person in community affairs. It is unfortunate that there is a lack of understanding of the time commitment that was needed to achieve successful prorgrams.
“This director hoped that the success of the recreational offerings could have continued and be enhanced with a full-time recreation professional with experience in this field. This position requires a seasoned recreational professional.”
Taylor got plenty of support for a full-time recreation director from the commission, which has had a subcommittee working on coming up with a proposal for a full-time post for several months.
Indeed, chairman Michael Seward asked the members of the board to fill out a position-description questionnaire for a full-time director. It will be forwarded to the town manager via the town’s part-time human relations manager, MariAnn Oliveira.
"We never voted on it," Seward said, "but I think everyone knows where we stand."
Both Ed McKinlay, vice chairman of the board, and member Anthony Arico view filling out the questionnaire as a bit of a waste of time with the town manager moving in another direction.
“The town manager has not approached the recreation board,” said a rather exasperated MacKinlay. “Why are we going through the motion? This looks to me like a paper exercise.”
“The focus of this commission is recreation," said Arico. "We should stay there. There is a need for more recreation.”
Taylor agreed -- particularly in the need for teen programs.
“There is not one program for teens,” said Taylor. “This changes the whole thing. I think it’s a pipedream to think someone can do recreation and all sorts of other arts and cultural activities at the same time.”
Seward said he does not see the commission’s push for a full-time director as a waste of time despite the town manager’s vision for the position. He set a date of Sept. 11 for the commission members to get together to finalize a job description for a full-time director.
Taylor’s voice cracked several times as he gave his final, almost tearful report to the commission.
“I tried to give a vision of what a real recreation specialist can bring to the town,” he said. “There is still a lot to do.”
“Be proud of of what you were able to accomplish,” Town Council President June Speakman, the liaison to the recreation commission, said to Taylor. “Be proud of what you did.”