Oxford recreation committee heated topic

0
1374

OXFORD — The Selectmen will hold a workshop tonight, July 26, to discuss the Oxford Recreation Committee bylaws, a week after the majority of selectmen voted to allow the committee board to continue its work but agreed to meet later to discuss its bylaws.

The workshop is set to begin  at 6 p.m. at the Oxford Town Office.

The decision to hold the workshop follows a 90 minute discussion on July 19 when selectmen voted to let the Oxford Recreation Committee to continue its work but directed that a private bank account it holds to fund recreation needs be turned over to the town.

In that 3-2 decision, with Selectmen Samantha Hewey and Scott Hunter casting a dissenting vote, the board told the committee to dissolve a savings account that currently has about $11,000 in it and return the money to the town where it will be placed in a special Reserve Fund earmarked for recreation committee activities only

The action was taken in a standing room only meeting room between members of the Recreation Committee, Recreation Department Director Kathleen Dillingham, Town Manager Butch Asselin  and the Board of Selectmen. The meeting was sparked by Asselin’s suggestion that the committee’s activities and meetings be postponed in part because he believes some of the their actions have resulted in the creation of a “hostile work environment.”

“My biggest concern is the creation of a hostile work environment,” said Asselin who told the board he has spent an inordinate amount of time on the Oxford Recreation Committee’s needs instead of members going through the proper chain of command, which would be to Director Dillingham.

“I’m spending too much time on issues of the recreation board,” he said.

Asselin and others said there has been an history of contentious meetings, in-house fighting  and confrontations with the advisory board that is comprised of an 11-member appointed panel.

Dillingham told selectmen that in the month-and-a-half since she has been hired for the 30-hour job, she has had trouble moving forward with department plans because of a hostile working environment caused in large part by rumors that circulate social media sited.

“I am not a dictator,” she said to some who felt that doing away with the committee would leave a single person in command. Dillingham said she believes in recreation and the need to expand it, but because of “constant push back” from some of the committee it has been difficult to do the job she was hired to do.

“I have not for the last month-and-one-half been able to do my job,” she said.

Lori Turgeon, chairman of the Recreation Committee and other members and supporters said the committee needs to remain intact to provide the volunteerism necessary to run the programs.

“We’ve put a lot of work into this community to just go away,” she said. “I’m asking you to continue what we’re doing.”

Many agreed that there needs to be a chain of command that is followed and that a communication problems exists.

The board agreed they should meet with the Recreation Committee and the Director to lay out a plan that everyone can agree with and follow so that the concerns of the committee are brought to the director and she in turn will relay them to the town manager.

In other related activity, the board agreed to a new fee system for both hourly and day use of the Community Center on weekends and to revise the beach policies. The revisions would have to be approved at town meeting

Other board action

In other action, selectmen heard a presentation from Dina Jackson, AVCOG’s marketing coordinator  for tourism on current efforts and program that support regional tourism.

The board also voted to appoint Jarek Mains to the Planning Board Committee;  appointed Henry Jackson to the Budget Committee; gave permission for the town manager to enter into an Employee Loan Agreement with Oxford Helping Hands; approved a mass gathering notification for the Oxford County Fair; approved the liquor license renewal for Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar and a request from Fire Chief Gary Sacco to enable him to purchase SCBA’s and Lifepak units.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net