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Porter eager to lead Parks and Recreation Department

July 25, 2014 | By G. Michael Dobbs

CHICOPEE – Carolyn Porter, the former director of Parks and Recreation departments in Holyoke and East Longmeadow, has been hired to fill the position in Chicopee left vacant a year ago with the retirement of Parks and Recreation Superintendent Stanley Walczak.
Porter told Reminder Publications that she is up to the challenge of running a department for a city as large as Chicopee.
“It a bigger responsibility to run a department than I’ve had in the past,” she said, adding that she is confident she has the experience to direct the department.
Mayor Richard Kos made note of Porter’s hiring on July 14. During the past year Richard Maciolek, who served as acting superintendent, and Sean Carroll as acting assistant superintendent, led the department.
“We thank Rich and Sean for their hard work during this transition period,” Kos said.
Porter has a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a dual master’s degree in therapeutic recreation management and recreation management. She led the Holyoke department for three and half years and the East Longmeadow program for six years.
She said she is a “supporter for pay for play” programming and believes the activities of a parks and recreation department would be “economic neutral or better.”
Like Walczak, Porter intends to apply for applicable grants to augment the department’s budget.
During her first week on the job, Porter had to face the issue of aging municipal pools that are leaking water, an issue she faced in Holyoke. She said that opening the indoor pool at Chicopee Comprehensive High School is not the ideal situation to compensate for the closing of the Ray Ashe pool but “it’s the best one can do.”
She added that Chicopee is lucky to have four pools, but noted the lifespan for concrete pools is about 50 years and the Chicopee pools are between 60- and 65-years- old. She will undertake an assessment of the pools as requested by Kos to evaluate their conditions.
Poster believes the city needs to thing about building a new pool, which she described as a “big financial commitment.”
A parks and recreation department is more than just youth sports, Porter said. The goal, she said, “is to serve the broadest section of the city as possible from very young children to seniors.”
She added, “Recreation is anything someone does for fun.” There is room for growth in the offerings of the department and program development is “tied to people offering opportunities.”
She said she is issuing an invitation to “people with a gift or talent to offer” to consider developing a program or class for the department.
Porter also believes in collaboration and would like to work with both the library and senior center in programs that would allow expansion.
“I’m looking forward to those conversations,” she said.
Kos said, “I want to thank everyone for their time and effort assuring that the city has the best candidate possible for the job. Carolyn’s vision for our parks is exciting and I look forward to working with her to see that vision become a reality.”

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