Recreation opportunities for our youth
To the Editor:
The recent tax reduction campaigns in Rumford and Mexico have created a sense of urgency to ensure that we “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” The voters have re-enforced the need to significantly reduce the municipal government service department spending in each town.
This has become a norm all across Maine. We’re expecting Municipal spending reductions to provide 15% to 20% tax relief to all Rumford taxpayers to counter the 24% tax increase since 2008. Consolidation of services should become an outcry from the taxpayers. Effective implementation of mutual aid and reorganization of functions through consolidation is possible and cost effective.
Fear tactics do not have a place in town government. We can do better, together!
Several of the recreation organizations have been struck a serious blow when they received zero funding without recourse…while the municipal departments will be allowed to have a second vote to increase their department funding from Zero to a negotiated amount. Legally, this situation cannot be changed this year.
However, it is the region’s responsibility to provide venues for recreation for our residents. Our young people have had access to the GRCC, Black Mountain Ski area and the Mexico Recreation Center to build on the values of a healthy lifestyle.
Our town officials and the other taxpayers understand the importance of sustaining and improving the recreational opportunities. We must separate the intention to support our youth from the buildings where the activities are available. It’s difficult to fully understand why so many voters struck down the funding for the GRCC and Black Mountain, but a careful review will most likely uncover several past and present public concerns.
The GRCC has served us well for over 100 years but needs numerous upgrades for building code compliance including handicap access and a new heating system. The costs may be too high to remedy the concerns. Additionally, the GRCC organization pays for heating other rooms below the recreation functions for other organizations. The management of the GRCC is separate from the Rumford Municipality.
The Mexico Recreation Center utilizes an old school building, which appears to need upgrades but it has handicap access and a large footprint. Their center is a Mexico Municipal Department.
Black Mountain is an important recreation center for residents of all ages. It is owned by a private multi-million dollar non-profit organization. I believe they will appropriately revise their business model to close the funding gap.
Often, in life, what appears to be an obstacle turns out to be a step toward excellence. The funding solution for the GRCC will most likely center on a cooperative agreement between the Mexico town officials and the GRCC board. An agreement could lead the way toward creating a River Valley Recreation organization, which will be managed as a self-standing business. The new organization could establish support networks with the Rumford and Mexico parks departments.
It’s reasonable that a well-defined and operational RV Recreation Organization will be very successful obtaining grants and increased revenue from membership. The recreation programs for our youth (gymnastics, baseball, etc) must be sustained. The vision for a River Valley Recreation Organization should include future plans for an expanded, modern facility.
I hope numerous Rumford and Mexico residents will join me as new members of the recreation center(s) to build on the number of supporters (financially and functionally).