Recreation Board seeks to expand opportunities for kids

Sat, 02/15/2020 - 2:45pm

Those Block Island families, and non-island families, who have enjoyed the activities of Camp Mohegan in the summer but thought their children have aged out of the program at 10 will be happy to know that the upper age limit has been increased to 12.

The members of the Recreation Board made that decision at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

“We have had a bunch of kids going for a while and didn’t want to age out at 10,” said Recreation Department Director Dave Sniffen.

Department Assistant Cindy Lemon said when the kids stop going at age 12 they could segue into becoming camp counselors. Camp Mohegan will run from June 22 through Aug. 21 this year.

Costs for the camp will go up slightly, with the eight-week program costing Block Island students $145 and non-Block Island students paying a fee of $225.

The members of the Recreation Board said it will also support an art installation at the tennis courts at Ball O’Brien Park that was suggested by island resident Sue Brown Black.

Sniffen said it would be a “collaboration with island kids” and a visiting artist. He said he saw a prototype of the artwork, which he described as a butterfly made of yarn. “It was pretty cool,” said Sniffen, who added that the board, if in favor of the project, should write a letter to the Town Council voicing that approval.

“We don’t have any issues with it,” said Board Chair Chris Willi, who noted that it still needed to go before the Historic District Commission and the Land Trust for approval, as well.

The ongoing issue of getting a new drainage system at Heinz Field was also discussed. Sniffen said that plans had been drawn up and that a bid now needed to be issued.

“I hope to get it done in the spring before the baseball season,” said Sniffen.

“Done by the summer?” asked Willi.

“I hope so,” said Sniffen. “It’s not a huge project. I hope to get it bid and finish it.”

The board members also reviewed a draft of the 2021 Recreation Department budget. Expenses are now estimated at $434,141 and revenue estimated at $262,195. All town department and committees are in the process of reviewing their proposed budgets for the next fiscal year.

Sniffen said the revenue “was obviously the best case scenario,” but said the revenue from the Fred Benson Beach House was “decent” at $110,000 for the season.

Sniffen added that “60 percent of the budget is covered by revenue,” which he said is unusual for most town recreation departments.