Nicholas Wolfram (10) is about to end up in the dunk tank, again.
With only a 40 percent chance of rain in the forecast, Pelham Parks and Recreation Department head Darren McCarthy declared that the Family Fun Day would go on as scheduled. On Friday, August 10, the food tent was set, the climbing wall was ready, the bouncy house was full inflated, the pony saddled up and the dunk tank filled. Despite the drizzle, the families came.
Family Fun Day used to be the last day of the Pelham Summer Camp program, but has now blossomed into a full-fledged event.
“It’s a nice way to bring the younger kids to a safe field trip right behind the police station with all of our staff present,” said McCarthy.
He set up the event, including renting all of the equipment from Pelham Grand Rental. According to McCarthy, the Junior Leader program was in charge of the food. They received a huge donation from Pepsi and Hannaford in Pelham. Paul Ciampa always volunteers to cook the food, McDonny’s was the traveling farm and Giddy Up gave the pony rides. The climbing wall came from Unique Entertainment in Plymouth, New Hampshire.
Officer Mike Marshall, who is the school Resource Officer, thought the event was “awesome.” “I didn’t realize it was this big,” he said.
“Family Fun day is a great way for the family to come to Lyons Park and have a fun day together. Officer Lyons would have loved this,” said McCarthy.
Shannon (8) makes her way up the rock wall.
Instructor Tony Deluca brings a Spongebob flair to his flips.
Kids of all ages whizzed through the water at Cobbetts Pond on Sunday during the annual Cobbetts Pond Water Sports Club show. Onlookers cheered as riders barely as tall as their skis or boards balanced on their choice of riding device and maneuvered through the waves.
Some water-skiers had straps keeping their skis from separating. The straps act as training wheels for beginners, whose skis would otherwise widen all the way, leaving the wearer riding face down in the water.
Riders looking to use a single piece of equipment can try a wakeboard, which resembles a bodyboard, also known as a “boogie board.” The rider inserts his feet into binders attached to the board similar to the way a snowboard is worn. The oneness and attachment of the board is conducive to tricks such as jumps or flips. A few younger riders chose water ski discs, which demand good balance but cannot be used at high speeds. The discs allow riders to make circles and spin themselves.
Debbie MacKenzie, the club’s president, said between 30 – 50 kids participate in the show from year to year. The kids range as young as four years old up to 19 years old. They include all levels from beginners up to instructors. MacKenzie said she is excited that so many young kids joined the club this year. More than half of the kids in this year’s club are under seven years old. They all worked hard over the summer so they would be ready to participate in the show, MacKenzie said.
“Sometimes we have kids in tubes because they are not able to get up on a skimmer or skis,” MacKenzie explained. “This year, all the little ones were on either a skimmer or skis, so it was exciting to see the results of the hard work.”
MacKenzie said she was also excited to see kids who had grown up taking lessons through the club that are now involved in teaching the beginners.
“It’s fun to see how they’ve improved, and the show is a great way for them to show off what they’ve learned over the years,” MacKenzie said.
One such person who grew up in the club is Tony Deluca. Deluca, who crewed one of the boats for the show, took lessons at the club when he was younger and now works as an instructor for the club. At the conclusion of the show, Deluca donned a Spongebob Squarepants costume and did a couple of jumps and flips. Deluca said this was the first time he had tried any tricks while wearing the costume.
The water sports club, which was formed in 1976, is open to any resident or person with access to Cobbetts Pond. MacKenzie encourages any members of the lake to get involved with the club. The available opportunities include instructing, driving boats, advertising, and selling raffle tickets.
Joe Thompson gets major air while wakeboarding at the Cobbetts Pond Water Sports show.
Nick Blake goes all out on his wakeboard.
Recreation Coordinator Cheryl Haas has provided a real boost to the town's summer program, for both children and adults living in the Town of Windham.
"Cheryl is doing a fantastic job," Selectman Roger Hohenberger said during the board's meeting on Monday, August 6. "The position has been a great addition to the town," Hohenberger said. "The position has proven to be well worthwhile," Selectman Dennis Senibaldi added. The recreation coordinator slot became full-time this past May after getting voters' approval at town meeting last March.
"It's been a very busy summer," Haas told selectmen, remarking on the high participation of residents in this year's programs. Included among the list of summer offerings were tennis lessons. “A total of 150 kids participated in the tennis program this year - some as young as five-years-old,” Haas said.
There were two sessions of swimming lessons this summer, with each session lasting two weeks. “The first session saw a decline in participation due to the E-coli outbreak last month. Attendance at the second session was up, however,” Haas added.
The annual Windham Town Day, held in July, saw a large turnout of residents. "It was fabulous!" Haas said.
"It was very well attended, and we went through a lot of burgers,” she added.
Events in the planning stage include the annual Harvest Festival, slated for Saturday, October 20, and a Child Safety Day, tentatively set for next April. Plans for Child Safety Day include a bicycle rodeo and the nationally recognized Safe Kids Identification Program. Haas said the event is being coordinated between herself and Windham Deputy Fire Chief Robert Leuci. She and Leuci are still looking for a sponsor for the event.
As for future projects, Haas is waiting to receive the final draft of a master plan for the Town Recreation Department. That final draft is currently being worked on by members of the Rockingham County Planning Commission of which Windham is a member. Once Haas receives the final draft, she will be presenting it to selectmen for review.
"The master plan is simply a guide for future planning," Haas said. "It's not the ‘be all/end all’ of planning. It certainly won't solve all the town's issues concerning sufficient sports’ field space, nor will it remedy any outstanding issues regarding the future high school's athletic wants and needs. The town and the school need to work together in planning and sharing their athletic facilities,” Hohenberger said.
“The sanding and sealing of Wonderland's wooden play structure has been finished, and the landscaping around the area is done,” Haas said. Currently, members of the local girl scout troop are working with Haas to complete a mural for the play area.
As for the town beach, the roof on the building is expected to be re-done by September, and the rotting windowsills in the structure have recently been replaced with limestone. Both projects were approved by selectmen earlier this summer with money from the revolving recreation fund.
Repairs to the skateboard facility in Griffin Park have recently been done, totaling approximately $1,500. Haas said additional repairs to the skateboard park are pending.
In anticipation of an engineering study for the Nashua Road Field, wetlands’ delineation flagging has been done. Haas told selectmen that the study needs to be done as soon as possible so that she can include any proposed work in her 2008 budget.
Although complete wind screening of the town's tennis courts was approved by selectmen months ago, the project was reconsidered during the August 6 meeting which resulted in town officials deciding to only screen two sides of the area, at least for the time being. According to Haas, the tennis coaches employed by the town this summer recommended screening only two sides of the facility, while members of the recreation committee requested that three sides be screened. Those opposed to screening in all four sides cited a lack of visibility as being a concern. The need for any possible additional wind screening will be re-evaluated at a later date. The money for the project is not coming from the town budget. The wind screen is being paid for with money from the revolving tennis fund, money earned through an annual tennis competition.
Haas said she has also been putting in a great deal of effort seeing that the town's athletic fields are getting back to where they should be. “A lack of maintenance in the past had left them in poor shape,” she said. “Once they are fully restored, they will be much easier and less expensive to maintain,” she added.
Windham Maintenance Director Al Barlow told selectmen that the new pumping system at Griffin Park is "working great" and there have been no problems with a lack of water for flushing toilets. He also said the vendor who provided trash barrels and has been collecting the garbage is doing a terrific job.
Barlow met with selectmen during a workshop on Monday, August 6. During that session, he detailed projects that have recently been completed, as well as those that are still pending.
Ideal Trash Disposal Service, of Pelham, the vendor who is providing trash and recyclable bins for Griffin Park at no cost to taxpayers, began the free service to Windham earlier this summer. "It's working very well," Barlow said, “with one exception - people are still littering." He also said that the skateboard park, which is located in Griffin Park, is "trashed all the time." Barlow said he hopes to expand the vendor provided barrels and bins and trash pickup service to the town's other recreational facilities at some point in the future.
On another positive note, Barlow said people have been very good about cleaning up after their dogs at the park. “Dog feces, a major topic of conversation last winter, has not been an issue this spring and summer,” Barlow said. “Residents are scooping up “the poop" and disposing of it in the plastic bags which are supplied free of charge.”
Listed among recent projects completed is the replacement of windowsills at the Cobbett's Pond Town Beach building. The old wooden sills have been replaced with limestone. The moorings for the raft located at the town beach have also been repaired. The crawl space, or attic, if you prefer, at the Armstrong Building has been cleared of all the debris that had accumulated over the years. Barlow said the debris did not contain anything of historical significance to the Town of Windham. The lighting in the 4 1/2 foot high "attic" was also recently repaired.
Network cabling for Windham's cable television studio has been recently updated, as well as work having been done on the security systems in various town facilities.
A former Windham police cruiser (2004 Ford) has been reconditioned and is being used for administrative purposes by town employees. The 2004 model replaces the 1997 Ford, which was previously used for town business.
Repairs are being done on the roof of the Armstrong Building, and exterior painting is being completed on both the Armstrong Building and the Senior Citizens' Center across the road. Rotted timbers have recently been replaced on the Herbert Field Bridge. At the Windham Fire Department, repairs to the well have been completed, using plastic pipes, Barlow said. A water line at the cemetery on Plains Road was also fixed earlier this month.
Barlow said he is putting off any work on building an access bridge at Griffin Park until more information becomes available on what work is needed on the drainage swale in that area. Also, at Griffin Park, Barlow said he feels that a protective wall needs to be installed in the area of the new pumping system. "This equipment is very sensitive," he said. Work on the overhead door at the rest room also remains uncompleted. Prior to the end of summer, Barlow also wants to have vegetation control applied to stone walls at Griffin Park, before the problem grows any worse.
New plans are also in the works for better winterization of the skateboard park. Barlow said plastic sheeting was used last year to cover the structures, but it didn't fare well once the cold air and wind got hold of it. "It was all cracked after the first large storm," he said. Selectman Bruce Breton suggested using canvas tarps this coming winter. The skateboard park is generally closed down in November and reopened the following April.
Work also needs to be done on the irrigation pump at Griffin Park, the one used for the pond. Barlow said the pump was hit by lightning a couple years ago and has not worked efficiently since that time. A couple of selectmen commented that the new fountain in Griffin Park's pond is not doing a very good job of keeping away the migrating Canada geese. "They seem to be having a good time walking around it," Selectman Margaret Crisler said. The fountain was installed a few weeks ago, in hopes that it would scare the geese away. It was felt the geese were contaminating the area with their feces, with a grown goose producing as much as a pound of "goose poop" on a daily basis.
The interior painting of all town buildings is on the agenda. Barlow said employees will be doing some of the work, but it is likely that additional painters will need to be hired to get the job done without taking employees away from other chores. The rear stairway to the planning and development building, which is situated in the upstairs of the old firehouse, needs to be replaced. Barlow said the existing staircase does not meet current building codes. This particular stairway is the emergency exit from the main meeting room in that building. Selectman Dennis Senibaldi said he feels the stairway becomes too slippery when wet and said he took a fall himself on those steps.
Renovations to the second floor of the Bartley Building are in the planning stage. Barlow said there's a budget of about $50,000 to transform the second floor into office space for town employees. There was also some discussion of the need for an elevator to the second story to provide access for people with physical disabilities. “If an elevator is to be installed,” Barlow said, “it would be most efficient to put it on the outside of the building rather than take up floor space inside the building.” There was some discussion of putting a proposed elevator in as a warrant article for March 2008 town meeting.
The subject of the old concession building at Rogers Field was also on the agenda. Barlow said the roof is leaking and in need of repair. Estimates for the cost are about $1,000. Selectmen said the concession stand does not belong to the town, although it sits on town property. The building belongs to the Windham Baseball Association, according to town officials. The structure does, however, house the park's irrigation system and electrical panel. No decision was made on what to do about the leaky roof.
Selectman Breton complimented Barlow on his expertise and the efficiency of handling the departmental budget. Two-thirds into the year, only 53% of the 2007 maintenance budget has been spent. A total of $429,715 was allocated this year for the purposes of maintenance.
Recreation Coordinator Cheryl Haas also expressed her appreciation to Barlow, saying he's always ready to lend a hand on recreation projects. "He's always there to help," Haas told selectmen.