Revenue, programs stalled at Recreation Department

Thu, 12/24/2020 - 6:00pm

The halt to virtually all Recreation Department programs for the past nine months has not only impacted the kids who participate in those programs, but also department heads and the revenue that helps keeps its slate of activities afloat.

With continued restrictions on activities, Recreation Department Director Dave Sniffen and Assistant Director Cindy Lemon have been reassigned to other departments to help with town projects outside the department. Sniffen, for instance, is working with Facilities Manager Sam Bird, and Lemon is in the Town Clerk’s office. Sniffen said he has been taking online courses and seminars to receive certification in coaching.

The decline in revenue is due to the fact races, such as the annual Triathlon, were cancelled, and revenue-producing rentals, such as showers at the Beach Pavilion, were unavailable this past season. Sniffen said that overall revenue was down about 30 percent — less than the 50 percent decline that had been anticipated. Sniffen said the department usually takes in about $100,000 in the summer, and this year it was about $70,000, but all sources of revenue had not been added up yet.

The Recreation Department’s budget this year is $417,815. As he begins to think about his budget for next year, Sniffen said he was unsure as to “whether to ask for everything or be conservative. I just don’t know yet.”

That said, there was some discussion about bringing youth basketball back after the first of the year. Sniffen noted that School Supt. Mike Convery was following state protocol and not allowing any outside activity inside the school building at the present time, so Recreation Board member Annie Hall suggested bringing it outside.

“What if we do it outside at Ball O’Brien Park? Take it outside 100 percent,” said Hall. “Everyone would feel a lot better.”

Recreation Board Chair Chris Willi and Sniffen said they would look at bringing basketball practice outside and to see if returning to the school was a possibility. Board member Roberta Closter said that the Rhode Island Interscholastic League has called for bringing basketball practice back on Jan. 4.

As for looking ahead to next year, Sniffen said that “We’re going to have to start moving forward under the assumption we’re going to have” a full slate of programs. He said the Shad Bloom race, which is traditionally run in May, is earliest and “is in question, but I’m hoping we can move forward on that.” He said he would start to create a 2021 schedule in the next couple of months.

“I want to do basketball, especially for the kids, to get things going if we can,” said Sniffen. “I’d like to get some activities for these kids.”