eHop posed the following questions to our Parks & Recreation Commission Candidates and we are posting their responses here exactly as submitted. We thank them for their time and for their commitment to Hopkinton. In addition we recommend voters watch theHCAM Contested Races Debate and the Women’s Club Meet the Candidates Night, both of which are available on the HCAM YouTube Channel.
COMMISSIONERS OF PARKS & RECREATION, For 3 years, Vote for 1
Question 1: What are your top three initiatives or priorities for programming in the next three years?
F. Eric Sonnett: My number One priority is the continuation of the program fee price stability for the next three years. The Parks and Recreation Commission is an enterprise fund. The enterprise fund is required to balance revenue verses expenses. In a perfect world the fees charged for our programs would cover the expenses for the commission. However, the Parks and Recreation commission has many non-revenue expenses that I feel should be paid for by the town and not the participants in our programs. The town common’s care and programs such as free concerts are an example. Should we lose this initiative with the town program fees would rise as much as 30% and some programs would be discontinued.
My number two priority is to expand our current programming to reflect the changing ethnic and age demographics in the town. Programs should represent all age groups and nationalities. Think badminton, cricket, bridge and bocce.
My number three priority is to continue to expand the environment to empower citizens and group to develop ideas for new programs. A dedicated professional staff is in place to help coordinate these initiatives.
Kelly W. Karp: I believe that there is a growing demand for adult athletic programs in Hopkinton. I was instrumental in bringing the Women’s Flag Football League together last year and found that it was not only a fantastic opportunity to exercise and stay fit, but it provided an additional way for people with common interests to meet and socialize. I would love to see the department expand upon these offerings. Secondly, I would like the department to grow their current offering of Community Wellness programs to include stress management, healthy eating, spiritual, emotional and mental wellness activities. I would like to explore the opportunity of utilizing the Town Common for outdoor Yoga and other group fitness activities. Lastly, I would like to explore additional variations of “mommy and me” or “daddy and me” activities that would give parents and young children a chance to bond and interact with a focus on a fit and healthy lifestyle.
Question 2: Where do you see the greatest investments should be as it pertains to the town’s facilities in the next 5-10 years?
F. Eric Sonnett: The Fruit Street Athletic Complex is the crown jewel of our Parks and Recreation Assets. This year two new facilities will be built. Parking and safety enhancements are also planned for this year. We have the luxury of undeveloped land for future expansion and the need to do so. By 2020 the housing units in Hopkinton will have increased by 2000 units. Expansion is not a want but a necessity. The need for a professional master plan is upon us.
The East Main Street Legacy Farms parcel that will be deeded to the town this year provides the opportunity to develop a masterpiece for the town. This parcel could include a Marathon Museum, community center, public swimming pool, and athletic fields. We are only restrained by our imaginations.
Facilities such as the approved dog park are being built and will be state of the art. We are negotiating with Stanton Foundation to upgrade our dog park to world class status. EMC Park will be expanded modernized and the Upper Charles Rail Trail will be an integral part of all that we do.
Kelly W. Karp: Long term, I would like Hopkinton to invest in a full-scale community recreation and wellness center including amenities such as an indoor track, basketball courts, racquetball courts, fitness studios, cycling studios, weight room and pool facilities just to name a few. In addition to offering exercise and fitness, I imagine the facility would serve as a community gathering place for fun and entertainment; learning and education and relaxation and would contribute to a healthy lifestyle for all ages. Short term I would like the department to invest in improving the quality and maintenance of some of our fields – specifically the baseball/softball fields at Hopkins and Carrigan Field.
Question 3: With the Todaro/Irvine property allocation currently being determined, what do you feel is the best (parks & rec) use of this land?
F. Eric Sonnett: I currently serve on the Irvine Todaro Committee representing the Upper Charles Rail Trail Committee. The number one Parks and Recreation use for this land is the Rail Trail. That said the process to determine the use will be heavily influenced by the citizens. A survey for ideas is in process and public information and discussion are planned for this summer and fall. This will be a bottom up and not a top down process. Imagination will be unleashed.
Kelly W. Karp: I would like to see the Irvine-Todaro property utilized for trails as a continuation of the Upper Charles Trail Committee’s vision to connect residents to the wide variety of natural resources Hopkinton has to offer. The proximity of the property provides a perfect opportunity to link EMC Park, Center Trail and the Town Common, making an accessible route for waking and biking to downtown and other points of interest in the community. A fully integrated trail system will add tremendous value to our community; it will allow for safe, healthy outdoor recreation as well as cultural and conservation activities.
Question 4: There remains a lot of discussion around the weed control of Lake Maspenock – what recommendation would you make to the Weed Management and Control Advisory Group to evoke a timely and mutually beneficial resolution?
F. Eric Sonnett: I currently serve on the Lake Maspenock Weed Management and Control Advisory Group. This group has hired a weed management expert who is directing the committee through a comprehensive process to define the problem and explore the solutions. Virtually every weed management solution is being analyzed. The committee has not yet arrived at a conclusion for the best action but feels that a long range plan is required. We have done a survey of the citizens and have held two public meetings to date to keep the public informed of our progress and get their input. More public meetings are planned. Our goal is to present a plan to the Selectmen this fall.
Kelly W. Karp: From what I have been able to read and study, the issue of the lake weeds in Lake Maspenock is very complicated and not easily or quickly resolved. The Town has been studying and taking action in one form or another since at least 1979. Since then, actions taken have included lake draw-down and herbicide applications. Other recommendations over the years have included aeration, hydro raking, dredging and mechanical harvesting. There are serious pros and cons to all suggested methods of management above relating to safety, effectiveness, cost and feasibility and ultimately community input must be the determining force in deciding which method or methods to use. I believe the Lake Maspenock Weed Management and Advisory Group has been very thoughtful and thorough in understanding the need for community involvement. They have been very welcoming of community feedback via open meetings and public surveys and I would continue to support their outreach and education efforts. I believe that they are thoroughly evaluating the options for an effective, safe and long term solution and I am open to hearing all suggestions. I will continue to educate myself so that ultimately I can assist the community in choosing a solution that is best overall for the town and preservation of the Lake.