Thanks to a rapidly growing population and an increasingly diverse population, the Hopkinton Parks & Recreation Department has been driven to expand its offerings to residents far beyond those traditionally associated with the office.
In addition to youth sports like baseball, football, basketball and lacrosse, recent programs include an etiquette workshop for kids, babysitting classes with first aid and CPR, grip lessons. public speaking for kids, esports, Minecraft, and outdoor yoga / hiking, among others. Activities.
âAs our city grew and the demographics of the city changed, we had a demand for things different from typical sports,â said Jay Guelfi, director of Parks & Rec. âOver the past few years, we have made an effort to meet the demands of our residents. “
The department also offered various sports, including tennis, golf and archery programs.
âFamilies are now looking to us to provide many different types of programs, and the only thing holding us back is space,â Guelfi said. âWe try to be creative with our space. “
The department partnered with the Shining Rock Golf Course in Northbridge to provide golf clinics and used the land behind the Center School for archery lessons.
The department is also trying to increase the number of tennis courts.
âFive years ago we had virtually no interest in tennis,â he said. âNow we have hundreds of children. “
Program coordinator Jenny Hart said the increase in population in the city has resulted in the need for more and more diverse programs. The department hopes to offer a fishing course for children as well as a photography workshop for children and adults in the near future, she said.
The size of the department has increased with the increase in demand for services. Parks & Rec now has two full-time employees, Guelfi and Hart, as well as other part-time employees.
âThe city has committed more resources and [Parks & Rec Commission] took their roles more seriously, âHart said.
Guelfi is in his seventh year working for the department, while Hart has been with Parks & Rec for six years. They noted that they have expanded their summer concerts on Town Common as well as the nightly movie offerings and both have been well received.
They also work on the construction of pickleball courts. The department planned to offer pickleball, which is similar to tennis but played on a smaller court with paddles and a lighter ball, at Center School, but the pandemic has put a damper on that.
The continuation and expansion of the programs is entirely dependent on the participation rate, Hart said, but the response to most of the Parks & Rec offerings has been strong.
In one example, STEM basketball has a maximum entry capacity of 15 people. The program has filled up and there are 17 people on the waiting list, Hart said.
âWe’re just limited by the gym space,â she said. “I would suggest another session if I had the space for it.”
So that the four-legged residents of Hopkinton are not left out, Guelfi said a dog park is due to open in October.
âWe have received a private grant and public funding and this should be completed in the next few weeks,â he said. âThe people of the city showed their interest in this and we finally succeeded. “
It is part of the department’s mission to serve the residents of Hopkinton, he said.
âThe goal here is to provide programming to every resident of the city,â Guelfi said. âWe want to make sure that every resident has access to the parks and the opportunity to participate in some sort of recreation program.â
But, when he started the job, did he think he would offer something called “Business Sharks?”
“No way,” Guelfi said with a chuckle.