What's next for Barrington Recreation Department?


A news article more than 50 years old details a familiar set of problems in Barrington: the need for more youth recreation programs and facilities, bad behavior by local teens, and a community struggling to improve the situation.

The article ran in the Barrington Times in 1958 and spoke of a meeting at Hampden Meadows School.

“One of the most lacking things in town, most people at the meeting felt, is a place to go or things to do for youngsters of 15, 16, 17, and 18,” it stated.

John Taylor, who recently retired from his post as the town’s recreation department director, believes not much has changed in town over the last five decades.

During a recent interview, Mr. Taylor said he tried hard to establish more programs and opportunities for Barrington’s young people and hopes that his work does not dissolve with the department’s leadership shift.

“I think we’ve brought it to a certain level,” Mr. Taylor said of the department’s new programs. “Do you want to take it to another level? I want to see the momentum carry on.”

While Mr. Taylor built a recreation department that offered a teen beach party and other youth programs like a flag football tournament, it’s hard to say what will come next for the department. Just last week, the town hired a new director of leisure services, replacing the position of recreation department director.

The leisure services director will likely establish or enhance more arts and cultural programs in town — a stretch from what Mr. Taylor would call for or what town officials advised back in 1958.

“If I were a teenager, I would not be happy in Barrington,” said Capt. Tyler Griffin in 1958. Mr. Griffin was an Army officer with “considerable training in juvenile matters.”

Dr. Robert Drew added: “The youngsters through 12 and 13 are very happy in Barrington. But the ones of 16 to 18 do not have a place to go. They need it very badly; they need society; they need to be together—here in Barrington.”

According to the article, the town’s community services for young people included after-school sports, five playgrounds, a field day, tennis tournament, Halloween party and canteen program.

Mr. Taylor said he had hoped the town would have hired a “pro-recreation” person to lead the department. His vision for the future of the town’s recreation department included teen sports leagues and youth camps that offered activities like sailing, riflery, archery and other outdoor pursuits.

Mr. Taylor said he ran into a series of challenges while trying to build new programs. For starters, other organizations in Barrington — Barrington Community School and the Bayside YMCA — muddied the situation.

“All these programs should be under the recreation department’s umbrella,” he said.

Suggestions from 1958

When faced with the challenge of providing more programs to Barrington’s young people in 1958, here’s what some people suggested:

1. The home, parents  in particular, are the ones who can do the most to avoid juvenile delinquency and mold young people into good citizens.

2. The Barrington YMCA ought to, and apparently will, build a physical plant to supplement its growing program for boys and girls.

3. The people — as taxpayers — should be ready to foot the bill on the some types of recreational facilities.

4. An overall plan to coordinate private and public recreation should be worked out.




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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.