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Rec director seeking greener pastures

After more than four years of service, Fraley will take a position in Amherst

  • Rindge Recreation Director Craig Fraley is leaving the department after four and half years.
  • Rindge Recreation Director Craig Fraley is leaving the department after four and half years.

When Craig Fraley started his job as the recreation director in Rindge, four children were involved in the after-school program run by the department. Now, he leaves the department with a program enrollment of around 60 children, a strong summer camp program and seven part-time employees on staff.

Fraley presented his formal resignation at the Select Board meeting on May 28. He is joining the Department of Parks and Recreation in Amherst, and will be starting his duties as director on June 23. Fraley’s current salary in Rindge is $55.000; his new salary figure was unavailable by press time.

Fraley became the director of recreation in Rindge in 2010, after the position had been empty for a year. As the only full-time employee of the department, Fraley was responsible for hiring staff and developing various programs for youths and adults.

The long hours of planning, scheduling, budgeting and other administrative functions he had to complete and oversee as director paid off. For Fraley, the main goal of his job is to, as he said, “be able to create programs for people who want to recreate in their leisure time, and make those people happy and make them enjoy themselves. That’s very rewarding.”

“The best part of being a part of a Recreation Department is getting to be the fun part of many people’s life,” he said.

About his new position, Fraley said, “I am really excited for the programs they have going on there and also the opportunities to grow in programming for both adults and seniors.

Amherst has a population of almost 11,000, around double the size of Rindge. The Amherst Department of Parks and Recreation is one of a few in the nation with an environmental education department attached to it. This seems like a perfect fit for Fraley, who defines himself as an outdoors person that enjoys adventure education and recreation.

Fraley is a New Hampshire native. He grew up in New London and holds a Bachelor’s degree in outdoor education. “I grew up working at summer camps, going to camp, doing sports and just being outside. I have been in the field of recreation since I was 4 years old and I started playing soccer,” Fraley said.

Before joining the Department of Recreation in Rindge, Fraley worked as the program coordinator at the Recreation Department in Peterborough. “It was a good experience, I was able to do a lot more outdoor trips, and take children hiking and camping,” Fraley said.

In Rindge, Fraley said, the situation has been different. “With the way the department is set up, it is hard to offer outdoor adventure programs and offer the ones that are currently existing,” he said.

Fraley said he believes there is a need for more monetary support from the town. “The Rec Department is growing and the facilities and the infrastructure needs to grow with it. A big challenge is convincing the town that we need capital improvements,” he said.

For him, an increase in staff would improve the quality of the programs. “Previously, there were two full-time staff members. And right before I came they cut that to one. I really think that was a big mistake, because you can just do a lot more when you have two full-time people working on projects. I wish that the town sometime supports that again.”

Fraley also said he was disappointed the town did not approve a request to buy a new van for the department. The request of $25.000 failed by 30 votes at the polls in March. “The current 15-passenger van we have is not safe to have, according to Department of Transportation. It’s a maintenance nightmare. It is costing the town more money to upkeep it than it would be to actually purchase a new one,” Fraley said.

“Hopefully the new rec director can convince the people that there really is a need for more equipment or that more people will come out and vote and support the Rec Department,” Fraley said.

About Fraley’s departure, Town administrator Jane Pitt said, “We hate to lose him. He is a real team player, always with a smile. This job was an opportunity that he felt he couldn’t turn his back on. He has done some great things in the past years.”

The Town of Rindge is looking for Fraley’s replacement. Until a new employee is hired for the position, the town has hired Rene Sanromano to act as interim director of recreation. Pitt said town officials have sent out a job description and will be receiving applications until June 20. “We will create a search committee. The salary for the position is yet to be determined based on the candidate’s qualifications and experience,” Pitt said.

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