HARVARD -- Members of the Bare Hill Rowing Association are upset after a recent 3-2 decision by the Parks and Recreation Commission limited the club's number of rowers from 100 to 80.
Parks and Recreation chairman, John Lee, opposed dropping the rower cap to 80 and resigned immediately following the meeting.
"My resignation wasn't so much in regard to the vote of Bare Hill Rowing," the former chairman said. "It had a lot to do with the tenor of the committee and the way they are approaching things."
In a letter to Nashoba Publishing, Bare Rowing Association director Terry DeWitt stated that "The Bromfield AB (Acton-Boxborough) rowing team just received a tremendous blow, when the Parks and Recreation Commission voted to limit the team to 80 rowers at the beach."
Later in the letter, DeWitt wrote that the Parks and Recreation Department's main concern was "that the rowing team might disturb Harvard residents' ability to use the beach during drop-off and pick-up from practice, when in the spring and fall seasons, beach use is at a minimum. But they (the commission) haven't produced a single e-mail complaint from town residents."
Lee defended DeWitt's statement regarding how the Parks and Rec hasn't received any complaints from the residents. Lee said that the three committee members who voted yes on the 80-rower cap have argued that beach traffic has declined as a result of the number of rowers on the Bare Hill rowers team.
"That is the case they have been presenting," said Lee.
Committee member Pat Nelson voted in favor of the rower cap. She said there has been an agreement in place since 2004 between Bare Hill Rowing and Parks and Rec that specifies that the crew team is limited to 80 participants.
"There was a verbal agreement to allow them to go to 100 participants, but it was never reflected in the contract," said Nelson. "A number of us on the committee felt that the team had gotten so big for the footprint on the beach that it precluded residents from being able to access and use the beach during the crew season. Not that they are bad people, it is more a function of the number."
Nelson said Bare Hill Rowing was "adamant" that they wanted "no-limit."
"They wanted absolutely no limit," said Nelson. "We tried to work with them both inside the formal meeting and outside the formal meeting to try and get them to amend that position, and they refused. They felt that the right solution was untethered growth. We tried to get them to propose a number and they refused.
"When the meeting was coming to the point when we were going to vote, Terry Dewitt made a comment that I think is more relevant than they are admitting. He made a comment that they have coaches that are not interested in coaching the Bare Hill rowing team unless they have the freedom to grow the Bare Hill crew team in an unkempt way."
Parks and Rec, along with Bromfield School athletic director Pam Alexander, conducted a study to see where Bare Hill Rowing would stand among other crew programs in the state, if the number of rowers was cut to 80.
If Bromfield-Acton Boxborough cut its crew team to 80 members, they would be on par with other schools of similar size. Committee members Nelson, BJ Pessia and Anne McWaters all voted in favor of the 80-rower cap.
DeWitt did not return e-mails or phone calls by press time. Nashoba Publishing also reached out to McWaters about her personal experience with the Bare Hill Rowing team, but our call was not returned.