New recreation director happy to be here

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

Bridgton’s new recreation director, 24-year-old Tom Tash, has already hit the ground running, according to Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz.


“I think you have a great community, and I’m excited to be working with you,” said Tash, after being introduced to the public, at Tuesday night’s selectmen’s meeting.

Tash, who holds a degree in Recreation Management from the University of Maine at Machias, is filling the position left vacant after long-time rec director Phil Gutekunst retired late last month.

“He’s new — he wants to hear from you — and he will continue to build on the success we’ve had in the past,” Berkowitz stated.

“We’re excited, and we hope you are,” Chairman Art Triglione told Tash Sept. 14, “and, hopefully, we will have a great relationship, for years to come. Welcome aboard.”

A native of Bangor who graduated from Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln, Tash spent the last three and a half years employed as a programmer for the City of Portland Recreation Department where he was responsible for organizing and supervising programs for pre-schoolers through adults. He moved back to Bangor, earlier this year, he said.

As one of nearly 40 applicants for the rec director’s job, Tash’s resume said his objective in applying here was “to obtain a position where I can utilize my experience in the recreation field and continue to develop and excel while giving my best to an employer.”

“I programmed activities for Camp Play All Day (K-1), Camp Experience (2-4), Camp Extreme (5-7), Teen Gym, movie nights, teen basketball, high school rec basketball leagues, adult volleyball, adult basketball, soccer and open gym,” Tash wrote on his resume listing his work experience. “I supervised community events, participated in community meetings involving the Rec Department’s involvement in the area. I had also been responsible for leading my site in the Deering area of Portland.”

Asked what attracted him to Bridgton, Tash said, “I wanted to be back in southern Maine, and I was looking to advance in recreation. So, ultimately, that’s why I applied here, and I was very pleased when I got called. I feel I have a lot I can offer the community.”

Tash said he will be meeting with Gutekunst in the near future, to go over some of the programs he had in place.

“I got to check out a lot of what Phil had done while he was here,” Tash stated, “and, I’m looking at making sure to continue the programs that were really successful and became established in the community, while adding some things I’ve picked up.”

“I’d like to provide more arts and crafts, for all age groups,” said Tash. “And, I’d like to have more teen programs — giving these kids an opportunity to have a safe place to hang out and have new experiences. For a lot of the kids in Portland, the rec program really turned their lives around.”

“I want to be able to provide something for everyone,” the new rec director said. “And, besides that, I’m obviously looking to maintain a budget friendly rec program.”

An art & music infusion

“A big thing for me is the art and music culture, and expanding the definition of recreation,” Tash said.

“One thing I’m really excited about is having an art walk, probably once a month, to get out and around and involving local businesses geared toward art,” Tash said. “I’m excited to see if some local businesses would be interested in participating, where they would stay open until 8 p.m. on the weekend, and we would invite the community in to see exhibits and be involved in the art community. That’s probably my biggest pet project.”

Asked if he minded having his age listed in this article, Tash spontaneously replied, “No — I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.”

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