Parks board prepares for summer programs

Feb 16, 2021

Snow storms may be on the horizon, but the Parks and Recreation Department is already looking ahead to the summer.

At a Feb. 16 board meeting, department director Tim Lancaster said that everything “is ready to go,” noting that with more parents returning to work, families will rely on the town’s parks “for their kids to go somewhere safe during the summer.”

“We’ve got a pretty decent plan in place,” he said, adding that it stems from optimism that “things will be better than they are right now.” 

According to Lancaster, if the summer concert series goes ahead, all of the bands are already in place. The musical acts for this year, he said, would be those scheduled to perform at Apponegansett Park in 2020.

Lancaster noted that the main issue for any summer programs is with getting new camp counselors and lifeguards.

With new pandemic-related rules, camps must now have two counselors per group. 

The director said that the Parks Department is currently reaching out to the School Department and libraries to see what options are available.

As for lifeguards, Lancaster noted that much like last year, training new ones “is still probably going to be a problem.” 

Last year, Dartmouth did not have enough lifeguards to staff the town’s beaches after lifeguarding classes were cancelled during the pandemic.

Lancaster said that while there are classes at the Fall River YMCA, “they filled up” and the existing classes could not accommodate all the needed lifeguards in the area.

Parks Board Chair Joe Vieira suggested that the town hire an instructor for classes at the UMass Dartmouth pool, noting that the school “was not using it.”

“It may be money well spent to try and get our people trained,” Vieira said. “We need to get a class for these kids — we need to do something.” 

Lancaster noted that while the town saved money last year through a spending freeze, the town would have to rely on CARES Act funding to run programs at their normal numbers.

“I’m hoping that we can pull this off this summer,” he said.