PEPPERELL -- With a new Summer Playground director taking the reins this year, the Pepperell Recreation Commission is preparing to offer six weeks of activities for local children.
Cathy Walmsley will be running the Summer Playground program this year, and has planned a series of theme days, obstacle courses and sports to keep children entertained throughout the summer.
Walmsley said the Summer Playground program gives students an experience they might not get at home.
"I think it's social. If you're the type of child that doesn't have a big neighborhood, you get a chance to see other children, play, interact, have fun and get some activity," Walmsley said.
Stacey Drahusz, the town's general recreation director, said that with former Summer Playground director Michael Savard unable to return this year, the Recreation Commission was excited to welcome Walmsley.
"We were very fortunate to get Cathy as our new director who comes with much experience -- teacher at Nissitissit (Middle School), former coach and many other qualifications that we feel will strengthen our program," Drahusz said.
Although the Recreation Commission is excited to provide this year's Summer Playground, Drahusz said there is one concern on the horizon. If a $1.1 million Proposition 2 1/2 override fails in a special election June 16, funding for Summer Playground would be cut out of the budget entirely. Future years may require an alternate funding source.
"Summer Playground will run this summer regardless of the override. We plan this program every year for the children of Pepperell and surrounding towns for their enjoyment not for the sole purpose of revenue making. If the override does not pass then going forward the Commission will need to discuss what other ideas we can bring about to keep the program running successfully if there is a drop in funding," Drahusz said.
The program is already running on less than it used to, she said.
"To date we have cut 70 percent of our funding from the town since 2008, as the goal of the Recreation Commission was to get the program self-sufficient. However, the funding left that the town still provides has been stabilizing us during these hard economic times," she said.
Summer Playground will be held July 8 through Aug. 16 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Town Field and Community Center.
For those who register before June 30, fees will be $190 per child with a $380 family maximum for residents and $210 per child with a $420 family maximum for non-residents for the full 6-week program.
After June 30, costs will increase to $200 per child with a $400 family maximum for residents and $220 per child with a $440 family maximum for non-residents.
Five-day passes can be purchased for $60 per child, regardless of where the family lives. They can be used for any five days throughout the program.
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