READFIELD — All four members of the Recreation Board stepped down last week, leaving administration of recreation programs and the beach to the town manager.

Board chairman Scott Olsen and member Kathleen Dupont did not want to be reappointed when their three-year terms expired Saturday, and Tamara Stockwell and Kim Fletcher both withdrew for personal reasons, according to letters sent to town officials.

The nine-seat board already was short of members and now has none.
Dupont declined to comment, and the other members did not return phone calls.

Board of Selectman Chairwoman Kathryn Woodsum said the board members were overwhelmed with work and worried about being held personally liable for accidents in recreation programs or at the beach on Maranacook Lake on Route 17.

Readfield’s liability insurance covers employees, elected officials and volunteers like members of town committees, Woodsum said.

Since its formation in 2005 from a merger of the beach and recreation boards, the Recreation Board has had a wide range of responsibilities, including running youth sports programs, organizing annual events such as the Easter egg hunt and overseeing the beach, which receives no public funding or staff support.

Woodsum said some former board members weren’t interested in both the beach and the recreation functions, and some did not want responsibility for the paid seasonal employee and aides who work at the beach.

“It’s quite a bigger job than any other board in town, because no one else has employees,” Woodsum said. “I think that’s the part that’s really stressful for people.”

At a fiscal year wrap-up meeting on Friday, the selectmen talked about whether splitting the Recreation Board back into two would help get volunteers, but because voters approved the merger at Town Meeting, the selectmen can’t undo it.

When Town Manager Stefan Pakulski returns from vacation on Thursday, he will take over the board’s functions until the selectmen can appoint new members.

Some repairs are under way at the beach to address problems identified in an insurer’s report this spring, Woodsum said, but the Recreation Board had not made a decision about the swings, which were identified as potentially unsafe.

“We’ve removed the swings and posted that they were removed by the selectboard,” Woodsum said.
“We’re hoping maybe that some of the people who may be upset by that, if they are, might say, ‘Hey, we didn’t know it was that dire,’ and maybe they’ll help,” Woodsum added.

Other than the swings and the additional workload for Pakulski, Woodsum said business should proceed as usual until the selectmen can find new Recreation Board members.

“Nothing is going to cease to operate,” she said. “Everything is going to keep running. The employees stay employed, the residents won’t really notice a difference, it’s just an administrative thing we have to figure out.”

Susan McMillan — 621-5645
[email protected]