Town officials admit it's not a perfect solution but the Tewksbury Recreation Department will be back in business for the spring and summer months.
At Tuesday night's Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Manager Richard Montuori unveiled a plan to make sure summer camp programs are offered to Tewksbury children and that town parks and playing fields are maintained properly.
The maintenance issue was handled when the board approved the hiring of Matt Coppi as a full-time Recreation Department employee. According to Montouri, Coppi, who has worked for the department in the past, would be charged with maintaining the playing fields and parks, including the Town Common and more than 40 memorial squares.
"The biggest issue is getting the fields ready for the spring season," said Montuori. "I've been meeting with the presidents of the youth leagues and the high school athletic director. We'll continue to meet ... relative to the facilities."
According to Montuori, bids are presently being received for the grass cutting on the fields. Those bids will be opened on April 1.
Montuori said plans are still being worked out but is goal is to be able offer the T-Ball program for children this spring. But the issue of the summer camp program has been resolved with the help of the School Department.
"I met last week with the superintendent of schools and the director of continuing education and the schools are going to combine the recreation camps with their camps," said Montuori. "We will have one town camp program ... no competing operations."
Montuori said the combined camp program would utilize both Recreation Department and School Department facilities.
Todd Johnson, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said he was delighted at the cooperative, supportive relationship that has formed between the School District and the town.
"We are facilitating and helping the schools and conversely the schools are helping us," said Johnson, alluding to Montouri finding money in town accounts to help the schools with their budget crisis.
There are program casualties under the plan. Montuori said it appears the recreation Department after school program will be eliminated. He said he is talking to the School Department about some type of alternative. In addition, the Recreation Department will not be offering trips, at least for the time being.
For now, Montuori will be personally overseeing the operations of the Recreation Department. He said he is not sure how long that will continue.
The Recreation Department has been in a state of limbo since mid-December, when it was shut down due to a criminal investigation being conducted by the public corruption office of the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office.
In the wake of that investigation, Recreation Department employee Lauren Bibo Morris was fired Recreation Director Roy Patterson was placed on paid administrative leave. Patterson was then fired earlier this month.
According to a spokesperson for DA Gerry Leone, the investigation is ongoing.