Orleans Recreation Director Positioned On Paid Go away

0
11

City works on staff, resumes winter programming

ORLEANS — The city’s recreation director has been placed on paid administrative leave and the winter recreation program has been temporarily suspended as a result.

Tracy Murphy, the chair of the recreation advisory board, said she was informed by e-mail last week from city manager John Kelly that Alan Harrison had been placed on leave effective December 6.

The language of the email, shared with The Chronicle by another committee member, said Harrison was given a leave of absence “as part of a process to address his performance and future in the position.”

Select CEO Andrea Reed said she was informed by Kelly of the decision to furlough Harrison. Kelly cited it as a personnel matter, saying in an email he “can’t Discuss Mr. Harrison’s status or provide additional information.”

Murphy said the committee was not notified of the furlough in advance and she was “surprised” by the email.

But public criticism of Harrison’s performance has mounted in recent months as the city works to find a way to improve its recreational program. Murphy has addressed the board-elect twice since the spring, publicly voicing the committee’s concerns about the city’s lack of programs compared to neighboring cities.

An organizational study is currently underway by the Edward J. Collins Center of Public Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston to examine staffing and other needs of the recreation department in the future. City Assembly voters earlier this year approved spending $15,000 to hire the Collins Center to conduct the study, which is expected to conclude in January.

As part of this process, a workshop was held in November to gather public input on the needs of the recreation department. Better management of the department was among the recommendations of the residents and city officials present.

With Harrison on furlough, the city has temporarily suspended the winter recreation program until staff can be secured to resume. A message posted to the Recreation Department’s page on the city’s website said the city hopes to resume the program in the next two weeks. The message was also shared through the department’s MyRec page to residents and families registered for winter programs.

Orleans Rec is working diligently to staff ongoing programs that recognize the importance of accessing residents’ mental and physical health,” the message said. “We hope to have coverage within two weeks.”

Kelly didn’t comment further on how the recreation department is currently staffed, or provide details on what actions the city is taking to recruit more staff for programming.

Murphy said the city is working to resume two programs in particular, Early Bird Fitness for seniors and the department’s youth basketball program, the latter of which was scheduled to begin Dec. 10.

Murphy said parents of children in the basketball program are very anxious for it to resume and some have expressed a willingness to volunteer if necessary.

It’s already registered players and coaches ready to receive their rosters and start training,” she said.

The city also plans to open an “open gym” at the weekend at Nauset Regional Middle School, or Orleans Elementary School, Murphy said.

As for early bird fitness, this program is led by Brendan Guttman, who retired in 2017 after nearly 30 years in that position as the city’s Recreation Director. Guttman was hired earlier this year to work 19.5 hours a week in the recreational department.

My very strong feeling is that this isn’t a very heavy job in terms of hours and management,” Murphy said. “It should be well within the skill of the rec assistant who used to run the department. He has run these programs before.”

Maintaining the winter program is critical, Murphy said, especially for children and families already signed up for the season.

When we think about what it’s like to be a kid on Cape Cod now, it’s dark at 4:30 a.m.,” she said. “The idea of ​​going to the gym twice a week with other kids is important. We talk a lot about community, that’s community, giving kids a place to be on a dark and cold December night.”

The early bird program will take place outside, weather permitting, Murphy said. The basketball program, meanwhile, is run by volunteers. The games are scheduled to start in January, she said.

At that point, you would need someone with keys to unlock the gym and then lock it again,” she said of what it would take to keep the basketball program going. “Anyone at DPW can be that.”

The Recovery Advisory Board is expected to discuss the state of winter programming further at its December 15 meeting.

It will also be an opportunity for us to discuss priorities and plans for the year ahead,” Murphy said in a follow-up email last week.