The Bromfield AB rowing team just received a tremendous blow, when the Park & Recreation (P&R) Commission voted to limit the team to 80 rowers at the beach.
This is a substantial reduction from the 100-rower cap we have had for years. While students currently in the program are grandfathered, many kids who want to row won't get the opportunity, unless we find an alternative arrangement.
BJ Pessia made the motion for the 80-rower cap and was joined by Anne McWaters and Pat Nelson. Joe Schmidt and John Lee (chair) opposed. Following the vote, John Lee resigned his position on P&R.
The vote to reduce the cap from 100 to 80 was the culmination of a multi-year campaign by one member of P&R to limit Acton-Boxborough (AB) participation on the team, despite widespread support by Harvard parents. AB participation has allowed the team to reach a critical size that has helped afford better coaching and equipment, leading to a better experience for every member of the team and two national championships.
P&R's stated concern is that the rowing team might disturb Harvard residents' ability to use the beach during drop-off and pick-up from practice in the spring and fall seasons when beach use is at a minimum. But they have not produced a single email complaint from town residents.
At a recent P&R meeting, over 50 people showed up on behalf of the rowing team seeking a positive solution. But their collective voices were ignored. P&R members admit they have voted based on their own personal "concerns" and have no evidence of a significant group of Harvard residents that is being inconvenienced.
The mission of Park & Recreation should be to promote recreation in town, particularly among our young people. The rowing team provides opportunities for students in sixth to 12th grades that are rare among public schools.
P&R's recent vote is counter to its mission and should be reversed. They should be working to support great recreational opportunities for our kids. We hope they will reconsider.
Board and Coaches of the Bromfield AB Rowing Team
TOM COTTON, TERRY DEWITT, PAM ERDOS, PAT HART,
HOLLY HATTON, DEBBIE HAYES, JULIE NOCKA,
BOB MACKIN, PAT SCOTT, TED VAN DUSEN, JIM WARE