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BANDON - Another contentious issue on the City Council agenda Monday night was whether the council would vote to discontinue the Bandon Summer Recreation program as it is now designed in favor of creating a community-wide recreation and wellness program, funded by the money used for Summer Rec.

Several parents and some children attended the meeting after they heard about the proposal. The Summer Rec program has been in existence for more than 25 years and has served working families well, some parents contended. They expressed frustration that they didn't know prior to last week that the program might not continue.

City Manager Robert Mawson presented a proposal to the council at its January meeting, saying that while the city has provided a successful Summer Rec program for youth in Bandon for many years, participation has declined over the last few years, the average participant is younger and the management and supervision to set up and operate the programs has become increasingly difficult to maintain.

Mawson said the 2018 Summer Recreation Program had approximately 25 very young participants because many of the older youth are utilizing programs offered by the Bandon Community Youth Center. Cost to the City for Summer Rec is approximately $30,500 in direct costs, including temporary staffing, bus and fuel costs, activity costs, etc. This works out to approximately $1,220 per participant. However, that number is offset somewhat by fees paid by participants, Mawson said. 

In addition, the administration of the program has fallen to city employees, which has taken them away from their regular duties.

Following that meeting, the council asked Mawson to work with the Parks and Recreation Commission on coming up with a year-round community-wide recreation and wellness program for all ages.

The Parks and Recreation Commission discussed the matter at their February meeting and formed an ad hoc committee to prepare a proposal for the council. That proposal was before the council for a vote at Monday's meeting.

At the meeting, the council heard from parents about the history of the Summer Rec program and how important it was for them.

Breanna Quattrocchi, a parent of two young children, as well as a School Board member, said there are 370-plus kids in the School District that are in sixth grade and below who cannot stay home in the summer. In addition, there are three registered day care centers in Bandon and they are all 100 percent full with wait lists.

"Bandon is referred to as a 'childcare desert' at the state level," Quattrocchi said.

Quattrocchi added that she was willing to be part of the solution to fixing problems with the current Summer Rec program.

"The youth in Bandon need structured and supervised activities to be made available to them. I think it's the community's responsibility to provide activities for all ages who need care before they are old enough to stay home alone."

Quattrocchi asked that the program continue this summer and a committee be formed to explore options for implementation in the summer of 2020.

Mawson had proposed the swimming lessons of the program continue in the mornings and that students could come back to Bandon for a free lunch every day. Bandon School Superintendent Doug Ardiana has voiced his support of that idea.

Another parent, Angela Cardas, also a School Board member and the parent of a third-grader, told the council that if it was an issue of money, most parents would be willing to pay more for the program.

"The age has gone down but if it ends at noon (after swimming lessons), you're going to have a lot of children home alone. This is the only option," Cardas said, adding there are ways to solve the problem, but canceling the program for this summer would be "irresponsible."

"Six-year-olds don't even require much to be entertained," said parent Patricia Flynn. "They don't need to be bused all over Coos County every day."

They all agreed part of the problem was organization of the program. Several parents agreed to serve on a committee to reorganize the program and address any issues. Summer Rec employee Kay Tamalonis said she contacted a former coordinator, who also said she'd help with planning for this summer.

The council agreed to let the program proceed and Mawson said he would advertise for a coordinator as soon as possible.

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