2006-09-21 / News

Council to meet in closed session to discuss recreation director

By Dotti Farrington

A special Town Council meeting will be called to discuss issues involving use of the Community Center, including its use by the Jamestown Community Theatre, and questions about decisions and actions of town Recreation Director Matthew Bolles pertaining to his department and to the Community Center.

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said the councilors have asked for a time separate from a regular meeting so that they can take a comprehensive look at the issues. Keiser said the date will be set at next Monday's council meeting. The discussion was originally set for Sept. 25.

Councilors had voted that the issues be discussed in executive or closed session because they might reflect on Bolles' job performance. Any town employee may request that such a discussion be conducted in an open session. Bolles had not requested that the discussion take place during an open meeting as of press time this week because he is out of town.

The issues were raised a few months ago by Councilman Michael Schnack, who wanted to know about the policies and practices regarding the use of the Community Center. Reports of his concerns were interpreted by some people as criticisms of Bolles and of the theatre group. Those reports spurred several public comments and letters to the editor in defense of Bolles and the theatre group, and some criticism directed at Schnack for raising his questions.

Schnack said at the Sept. 11 council meeting that he was not attacking the theatre group, and that he supports the theatre operations. He said he was questioning practices as they applied both to the theatre group and to all other users of the center. He also said, "I do not have a vendetta against anyone, and not against Matt Bolles," as charged by at least one resident.

Schnack said one of his concerns involved the non-profit status of the theatre group and whether it should be paying a specific fee for use of town facilities and related

staff time; or whether its revenue should be accounted for in the same way as all other recreation programs. This question raised some complaints from the theatre group and the public because the theatre operation has provided $36,000 for improvements at the Community Center over the past 10 years.

Among others concerns that have surfaced as a result of Schnack's questions was the matter of the town not having space at the Community Center or elsewhere to operate an adequate teen program. Some have interpreted extensive theatre use of the center as infringing on opportunities for other recreation possibilities, or at least nudging the teen group out. Monday's review is being anticipated as a forum to clarify situations and possibly correct problems.

The town administrator last month recommended forming a recreation board to decide on the ways recreation department activities and funds are administered.

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