Barrington, New Hampshire is a small, bedroom community nestled between the seacoast and capitol city.
There are no shopping malls. There are rolling green hills (white this time of year), friendly neighbors and fresh air.
These are the things that attracted us to this town.
Barrington is perhaps famous for Calef’s, an old fashioned country store established in 1869 that is still in operation today. A wooden replica of the store was also built as part of a new playground that was constructed a few years ago.
Another selling point for this town is the Barrington Recreation Department. The employees of this department work tirelessly to offer year round sports programs, including soccer, basketball, floor hockey, flag football, T-ball and more.
In addition, they offer seasonal programs like the Winter Carnival, Trunk-or-Treat and Pumpkin Lighting Festival.
When we moved here I was so impressed with the variety of programs they offered. They even have volleyball, basketball and workout classes for adults.
Recently, the Barrington Recreation Department has come under attack from local residents who feel the program should be self-funded as opposed to part of the town budget.
In a recent article published by Foster’s Daily Democrat, residents expressed concern at a hearing that taxpayers were still funding the Recreation Department, which, according to various townspeople, was supposed to be self-funded.
Recreation Department Director Mira Frase explained Thursday the department was formed in 1998 and required funds from the community to get off the ground. The very next year, Frase said, the operating budget for the department was voted in and has been a part of the town’s budget since then.
The idea of a self-funded department became moot when it was apparent they needed full-time staff, and “the department has proved its right to belong as a municipal department,” she said.
“I’m not against the Rec Department but not all of us use it and I’d like to see it more self-funded,” said town resident Carline Cain. She said the department was presented to the taxpayers under the pretense that it would be self-sufficient.
In this current economy, I feel it would be impossible for a department this size to be self-funded. Valuable staff and programs would be lost.
In the 10 years my family has been a resident of Barrington, we fortunately have not needed to use police or fire services. Should these services be self-funded instead? Of course not!
What about schools? Perhaps Ms. Cain is also not using the local school system. Should the schools then be self-funded?
Since we have lived in Barrington, the Recreation Department has proved their value many times over.
I can’t even imagaine not having acces to their summer camp and before and after school programs. This is essential for working parents.
Many of those registering complaints against the department claimed they didn’t use its facilities and therefore should not be the ones paying for it. Frase said that while many people think they don’t directly utilize her department, indirectly the whole community benefits from its services.
“They benefit because we develop some of these teens to be leaders in the community,” she said. Her department employs 53 teenagers at its camp each summer and Frase said many of the teens have come out and said they were headed down the wrong path before they joined the department.
In addition, she said department usage has grown 788 percent in the past six years.
I encourage all residents to attend and voice their opinion at the deliberative session, which will take place on February 7 at 9 a.m. in the middle school cafeteria. The Recreation Department will be offering childcare. You can also vote on March 10 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the middle school.