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A thumbs-up for rec effort


We’ve never heard anyone complain that children have too much to do to keep them out of trouble, to introduce them to new and worthy pursuits, to teach them valuable life lessons, to make them better people physically or mentally. Just the opposite: The standard complaint heard just about everywhere, not just the Middletown area, is that there aren’t enough things for kids to do.

There are several examples of how Middletown is striving to be the exception: Schools, Scout troops, cheerleading squads, even the nonprofit group Youth 10X’s Better, which has offered everything from photography classes to reading programs to kids for free at Wesley United Methodist Church on Ann Street.

It’s encouraging to learn about a recent deal that appears to have been struck by Middletown Borough, Lower Swatara Twp., Royalton Borough and the Middletown Area School District to resume funding for the Olmsted Area Recreation Board, a coalition of local officials that provides sports programs and recreation – from youth basketball leagues to management of Middletown’s community pool.

The deal, confirmed by Sue Layton, the rec board’s executive director, and Tom Mehaffie, president of the Lower Swatara Twp. commissioners, is for Middletown, Lower Swatara and the school district to contribute $10,000 each for 2016. Royalton would contribute $9,000.

The future of the Olmsted rec board has at times over the last five years been up in the air, as more frugal members of Middletown Borough Council have questioned the cost to the borough. At the time, the borough was responsible for maintenance and chemicals at the pool, repaired years ago at a substantial cost.

In fact, some of Olmsted’s members did not contribute to the rec board for at least a year, as members worked out funding disagreements and disputes over expenses.

Recently, Lower Swatara has proven to be a mover and advocate behind the idea of regional recreation programs, and recreation in general. The township owns a fine array of parks and athletic fields, and seems to seriously consider recreation to be a crucial quality of life issue.

Last summer, attendance at the Middletown pool increased, board officials said, giving hope that the facility can generate more income to offset its expenses.

The new accord struck between local governments and the school board indicate that everyone sees the value in teaming up to offer recreation programs. Joining together and combining our resources seems like the wisest way to offer recreation at the cheapest price possible. We applaud the effort.