As a member of the Harvard Park and Recreation Commission, I would like to formally address the residents of Harvard around the vote taken on Monday, Aug. 5, regarding the Bare Hill Rowing Association (BHRA) and the Bromfield/AB Crew Team. It is important that the facts, and the reasoning behind my vote be accurately reported -- without emotion, without bias.

The previous agreement between Park and Rec and BHRA was completed in the summer of 2010 -- just three years ago. In that agreement, the size of the team including coaches was limited to 80 participants. There was a verbal agreement in 2011 to allow the team to increase to 100 with the stipulation that if that presented any problems, the team would go back to the 80. At that time, BHRA assured Park and Rec that would not be a problem. As a consequence, the team has been at 95-100 for the past two years.

There were significant issues with the previous agreement specific to the appropriate governance of the relationship between The Bromfield School, BHP Harbormaster, various boards in town and BHRA. Park and Rec was assuming too broad of a role where The Bromfield School was not involved enough. In the process of re-drafting the agreement, the goal was to update the document with terms and conditions relevant to the Park and Rec areas of jurisdiction only -- the beach area and related facilities. The make-up of the team in terms of out-of-town rowers is now a key component of the responsibilities of The Bromfield School -- not Park and Rec.

Based on personal observation on multiple occasions, I felt that the number of students in the program converging onto a relatively small footprint of the beach, parking lots and beach house was precluding other Harvard residents from having reasonable access to the beach for their own personal use. Several Bromfield crew team parents confidentially agreed with my assessment -- one did so in an email that all commission members received but unfortunately not everyone had read. I feel very strongly that the commission has an obligation to represent all residents of the town equitably, including seniors and families with young children. The disagreement between Park and Rec and BHRA was focused on the number of participants. BHRA was adamant that they did not want any limit to the size of the program. They wanted the ability to grow the size of the program without limitation. I did not agree with that proposal.

The commission voted to enforce the 80 participants from the original agreement with the stipulation that all current roster students could continue in the program. New Bromfield students could be added while the current students gradually reduce through graduation or normal attrition. We acknowledged that this approach may take a few years to reach the target of 80.

I personally respect the work and the passion of BHRA to promote the crew program. My goal was to find some reasonable balance to preserve access for the many residents in town who have no affiliation with the program.

PAT NELSON

Harvard Park and Recreation Commission