Candidate Q & A: Linda Rice Collins, Recreation and Parks Commission

The following represents the candidate’s responses to the Current’s Park and Rec-specific questions. Jump back to Election Guide

Years in Marblehead: I have lived in Marblehead my entire life – 66 years

Occupation/education: Marblehead High School, bachelor of science from New Hampshire, K-12 physical Education and health teacher. Master’s of education from Boston University in health education. 

National Board Teacher Certification – Early – Middle Childhood Physical Education

I am a retired teacher having taught for 38 years. I began my career in Marblehead  and then moved on to teach for the  Manchester Essex Regional School District. While teaching for MERSD, I was the Wellness Curriculum Coordinator, mentor trainer, Crisis Committee Member, chair of the Health Advisory Committee and specialist team leader

Appointed positions and/or elected offices: Marblehead Recreation and Parks Commission 2000-2023

What should be the Rec and Parks Commission’s top five goals in the years ahead?

The mission statement for the Marblehead Recreation and Parks Department is to enhance the environment and the quality of life for the residents of Marblehead.  This is accomplished by the development of a variety of recreational activities in a safe and enjoyable setting, and through the care and maintenance of the town’s parks, athletic fields, and recreational areas.
Aligning with this statement, I believe there are five main issues to work on: 

1. Availability of fields to practice and play on, maintenance of the playing surfaces, development and offering of recreation programs for all age groups, continued improvement and maintenance of our passive parks. 

How I plan to accomplish this is:

As chair of the Sports Committee, I will continue to meet with all the sports groups to develop a usage plan and create a field usage book which is agreeable to all. I will also work with the Board to implement our six-year capital maintenance plan if we receive the funding to do so.
2. Using my background in athletics and recreation, I will work with our recreation supervisor to develop new programs to reach out to all of our citizens. This will include not only athletic programming but nature programming as well. The mission statement at the Hamond Nature Center is: We provide meaningful outdoor nature programs, for all ages, in all seasons, to inspire a deep connection to land and sea, a strong sense of self, and compassion for all living things.

3. I am the chair of the Passive Parks Committee.  The two pavilions at Chandler Hovey desperately need to be worked on. We are also partnered with Sustainable Marblehead on a new tree and planting initiative on our properties. Please check out the beautiful plantings at the entrance to Chandler Hovey.
4. We have also created plans for the Stramski House. I have been designated the point person for the implementation of these plans. The vocational students and their teachers are doing a tremendous job. We will have a sailing classroom, handicap bathrooms, lockers for rent, a prep kitchen, a lift, a deck and three large rooms for conferences or small gatherings. My hope is to work with Sustainable Marblehead to create permaculture gardens within the grounds. Permaculture gardens grow food in a sustainable, holistic and organic way. We will be creating a food forest for our community.
5. The Board has also created a plan for the renovation of Green Street Playground. 

As a Board we have created many goals: the completion of the renovation of the Stramski House, a six-year strategic capital improvement plan for the playing surfaces, a redevelopment of the Reynolds Playground, and we have begun the discussion on the future of Chandler Hovey.

The Commission has been accused of not being responsive enough recently, particularly to the hundreds of pickle ballers in town. What’s your reaction to that? What would you do to increase the commission’s responsiveness? 

We have had three very productive meetings with the pickleball community, the school department and neighbors surrounding the pickleball courts. I believe they have all been very positive. On February 28, we discussed sound mitigation options and hours of operation. We also discussed why the nets had been taken off. Under the advisement of the contractors who recently worked on the tennis and pickleball courts, we took the nets off the posts during the cold weather. We voted to allow the pickleball players to use portable nets until the nets would be placed back on. On April 12, we met on site with a noise mitigation specialist who discussed options we could use. On May 16, we all met again once we had quotes in hand. The most cost- effective solution would be to plant a row of arborvitae. As a group, we now need to determine a funding mechanism. We also discussed hours of operation on the courts and the use of softer sounding paddles and balls. Everyone present would like to continue to work together to find solutions.  

Now that Town Meeting passed an article urging town boards and commissions to be more accessible and transparent, do you support holding hybrid meetings?

Within the first few years, early 2000s, of being a member of the Recreation and Parks Commission I requested our meeting be recorded. We voted as a Board to do so.  The meetings were being recorded until COVID when we went virtual. Now that we are back to in-person meetings we must ensure our meetings are recorded until the Community Center is wired to accommodate virtual meetings. Currently, all of our minutes are written and posted after approval at the following meeting.

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