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Work underway to form ‘friends’ for parks

Proponents say Bethlehem group would be long-term endeavor

— The budget committee identified a number of possible cuts, including scaling down maintenance of ball fields, raising pool fees for children and seniors, opening the pool to non-residents and closing the Colonial Acres Golf Course. Other ideas suggested were to close the ice rink in Elm Avenue Park, eliminating lighting at night for tennis and basketball courts, eliminating a night ranger position and instituting a carry-in/carry-out policy for trash in parks.

The town has not yet committed to any of the cuts.

Gavrilik said the goal of the group would be to improve the parks, improve programming, and improve usership of facilities. They would also like to help upgrade equipment and accessibility devices.

“This is not meant for us to come in and fill a gap in the town budget, but a way to do more with less,” she said. “Parks are an important and essential part of living in Bethlehem and this allows for a different way of keeping strong programs going.”

The group wants to make sure all aspects and areas of the community are represented through the nonprofit and would like to see upgrades made to all town parks, not just Elm Avenue. The hope is for the group to bring in sponsors to build a better relationship between residents, businesses and the town to provide the needed improvements.

“We figure if we can’t make this work in a community like Bethlehem, it won’t work anywhere,” said Gavrilik.

To learn more or get involved, email friendsofparks@townofbethlehem.org.

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