Montuori says those qualified to teach a class in town should contact him
Earlier this year a community group named “Tewksbury Families for Recreation” formed to explore a path to revive a Tewksbury town-run recreation program. Neighboring towns including Wilmington and Billerica have programs that cater to all ages.
On Tuesday, TFR founders including Board of Health member Katelyn Bugda Gwilt met with Town Manager Richard Montuori, Town Planner Alex Lowder, Town Clerk Denise Graffeo and Library Director Diane Giarrusso to discuss various initiatives and opportunities to enhance recreational programming for Tewksbury residents.
“Our focus was addressing the need for a program coordinator and exploring alternative solutions to ensure our town’s programming needs are met,” said Bugda Gwilt.
The discussion included current programming and what is possible in the near and longer terms.
Currently, live and virtual programming is offered by the Tewksbury Public Library and Alphabest.
The Library offers a color-coded calendar online as well as pamphlets to help residents identify options. The library’s annual concerts on the lawn series starts soon, and more in-person adult programming is funded thanks to a $10,000 Impact Award received by the Friends of the Tewksbury Public Library. The Friends pay for all TPL programming through donations, and group President Mary Ann Taylor indicated that the award money will be used for in-person programs, including for those in the 30-plus age group.
Alphabest summer activities commence on July 5, at the Wynn School. This year has its highest enrollment for the summer yet, and the company will add some after-school enrichment activities in elementary schools, according to TPS Business Manager Dave Libby.
For future programming, Montuori outlined a plan to hire a program coordinator, along with a strategy to cover associated expenses. This position will be included in next year’s town budget and will be voted on at the May 2024 Town Meeting.
“This proposal aims to establish a dedicated position responsible for overseeing and coordinating various community programs,” said Bugda Gwilt. “And to address our current void, Mr. Montouri was extremely receptive of all ideas to establish programming and use of indoor space, weather permitting.”
In the near term, Montuori is highly interested in involving community members, she added, and in facilitating various classes and programs in the town to meet the community’s needs and interests.
“He emphasized that it will be the role of the program coordinator to reach out and organize these initiatives in the future,” said Bugda Gwilt. “In the meantime, should someone be interested in teaching a yoga class, meditation series, fitness classes, kickboxing classes, Zumba classes, or other similar activities, they should contact him.“
There is space and funding available — what’s lacking are instructors.
Bugda Gwilt says town staff was eager to hear the committee’s ideas.
“They welcomed our input in how we can establish opportunities for our community,” she said.
In the survey sent out earlier this year, for example, several members of the community expressed that they were using neighboring towns’ facilities, while others stated that they would like to do that but could not due to cost. Most respondents also indicated a willingness to pay a fee for rec services, and just 13% said they find the current center to be adequate.
Bugda Gwilt suggested establishing an inter-community partnership to provide cost-effective opportunities for residents to take classes in neighboring towns, including swimming lessons, as Tewksbury works to establish its own town rec program.
“While several plans are still being finalized, town staff is actively working on innovative strategies to expand programming options for Tewksbury residents to bridge the gap until a program coordinator is appointed,” she said. “More details will be announced once the plans are solidified.”
The meeting concluded with an assurance that the town is determined to act swiftly for the benefit of residents. For those looking for more information or to stay informed, there is a Facebook group and a website at www.tewksburyforrecreation.org where interested residents can ask questions or sign up to assist or stay informed.