EJRP to EPR: You're Out!
by Ken Signorello
August 28, 2021
Essex Parks & Rec (EPR) personnel moved into the Essex Junction Rec & Parks’ (EJRP) Maple Street Administration Building in a much-advertised co-location back in 2019.
Prior to that move, Brad Luck, EJRP Director, and Ally Vile, EPR Director, promoted co-location — at the December 5th, 2018 Joint Selectboard and Trustee Meeting — as convenient, one-stop shopping to better serve the public. Luck also said he expected close collaboration to benefit both staffs.
Several elected officials and members of the public anticipated operational efficiencies, like those seen in the recent consolidation of police functions nearby. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Yyma_6w9XI&t=834s
Previously, EPR was housed at 81 Main Street. Remnants of its presence still remain. That space now hosts the Town Finance Department.
When their co-location was proposed in 2018, talk of the latest Merger plan had just begun. Members of the SB and public had expressed wariness about these departments moving in prematurely.
Now, with failed Merger votes in the rear view mirror, the Trustees are preparing a plan for Separation. Public input over the course of their work sessions does not favor merging Rec Departments as Luck had originally proposed.
On July 6th Luck emailed Vile declaring, “Seeing as there is not a viable path forward to becoming one department, I do not see any value in co-location.“
Luck determined that Vile and her department should vacate the Maple Street Park building by August 23rd and relocate somewhere outside the Village:
“My best and most honest recommendation is that EPR find a new home at Memorial Hall.”
The stately but energy-inefficient Memorial Hall has been used for Rec programs on occasion but is also the long-time home of the Essex Community Players theater troupe.
Unified Manager Evan Teich’s response: EPR and EJRP will continue co-locating until he decides otherwise or gets guidance from either the Selectboard or Trustees.
Meanwhile, EPR seeks office space and a room suitable for programming.
[Update: As of October 17th, EPR plans to move back to 81 Main before year end.]