PORTSMOUTH — There will be arrows flying in Glen Park May 16-17, but don’t expect the town to make a habit of allowing archery there.
The Town Council Monday night voted unanimously to grant a special permit for the Portsmouth Girl Scouts to offer archery at the park during its annual Service Unit Camp Out, despite the Glen Park Working Committee’s initial ruling to disallow the activity. Girl Scouts in the fourth grade on up will shoot arrows into targets inside the park’s fenced horse rink.
The Glen Park panel’s chairwoman, Grace Kinnunen, said she wasn’t against archery, but that the panel had safety concerns over allowing the activity in such a public setting.
“All I could think about was this was a public park and we’re going to have arrows … It really is significant,” she said. “We have little kids playing lacrosse in back of the horse rink. There’s kids all over the place.”
Ms. Kinnunen also said she was concerned that some people who see archery at Glen Park will naturally assume it’s allowed there all the time.
Debbie Barandiaran of Portsmouth Girl Scouts, who said about 70 girls are expected to attend the campout, said there are strict guidelines imposed to ensure everyone’s safety. The Scouts carry insurance to cover any liability and employs Buckley Family Archery of Fall River to conduct the sessions and provide safety lessons, she said.
Mr. Buckley told the council that the girls won’t be shooting ardors at targets 90 meters away, as in the Olympics. “They’re shooting anywhere from eight to 10 yards at most,” he said.
Ms. Barandiaran also said the older Girl Scouts — those in 10th and 11th grade who have fewer activities available to them — have voted not to attend the camp if archery is not offered.
Council member Keith Hamilton said he understood Ms. Kinnunen’s concerns and that archery shouldn’t be allowed in town parks as a general rule. However, this was a special occasion and the activity will be well-supervised, he said.
Ms. Barandiaran said she would be happy to put up signs at Glen Park during the camp to notify visitors that archery was allowed by special permit only.
The council voted 7-0 to allow archery during the campout. The Girl Scouts will have to come back each year to request the exception, said Council President James Seveney.