Councilors Want Discussion on Establishing City Parks Department

Several city councilors have expressed interest in the city creating a Parks and Recreation Department.

District 8 Councilor Giovanni Recupero introduced a motion at Monday night’s council meeting asking City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to look into the possibility of creating such a department.

The city currently has a Recreation and Cultural Affairs Division, but the actual cleaning and upkeep of the city’s parks and playgrounds is handled by an outside contractor.

“Many years ago, the city had a park and recreation (department),” Recupero. “We should have one, every other city has one, I don’t know why we don’t have one, it doesn’t take much to have one. They could be in charge of handing out permits to the parks, they could be in charge of maintaining the parks.”

Recupero said the parks department should be its own entity, and not fall under another department.

“It would be beneficial to the city because the parks would be maintained better,” he said. “We pay a company over $250,000 to clean the parks, so if we pay someone to clean the parks, why not have our own division, we did that with the water department, why not have a park department?”

Councilor-At-Large Damali Vidot said she backed Recupero’s request.

“I remember when we started the recreation department a couple of years ago, Councilor (Leo) Robinson and a couple of other folks expressing concern about the marriage of Chelsea Community Schools and the recreation department, we wanted it to be a separate entity,” said Vidot. “Over the years, Bea Cravatta (the director of recreation and cultural affairs) has a lot on her plate running Chelsea public schools alone. Over the years, we saw recreational staff housed at Williams School. I think there needs to be a division, I think we need to explore that.”

Vidot said the city is also not getting its money’s worth from paying an outside contractor to keep the parks clean.

“Our parks are disgusting,” she said. “I live on top of Highland Street and Bellingham, there’s a park across the street, it’s a tot lot, but it doubles as a doggie park, there’s poop in every corner of the grass. It doubles as a place for teenagers to go because we don’t have a community center for teenagers to go. We are a growing city, we have new people in the city, but we are not investing the manpower or womanpower that we need in order to be able to keep up.”

Vidot suggested that Recupero’s request be moved to a council subcommittee on conference for further discussion, and Recupero agreed.

“I think it is important enough that it merits a much lengthier discussion,” said Vidot.

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