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Ernst hoping to continue lead on initiatives

Photo by Karin Ernst

Karin Ernst is seeking her third term on the Recreation and Parks Commission, and is hoping to continue working on initiatives that she took charge of in the past year. 

Ernst has been a member of the commission for the past two years and expressed her passion for this position at the League of Women Voters Candidate Night, held on May 24.

“People who know me know that I’m a hard worker, I show up, I listen, I participate,” Ernst said. “And I’m not shy about asking questions or sharing my opinion.”

Ernst said that she spent most of her first year on the commission “participating and learning,” before taking on a more prominent role the following year — when she took the lead on two big initiatives in town.

The first was Marblehead Landscape, a partnership between the Recreation and Parks Department and Sustainable Marblehead. The partnership allows for the recognition or remembrance of loved ones through landscaping on properties belonging to Recreation and Parks. The first project was completed at Chandler Hovey Park. Ernst, along with Essex Tech students, Pal Bickford from Sustainable Marblehead, and fellow Recreation and Parks candidate Larry Simpson, worked for two days on the entrance, with a generous donation made by the Hannaway family. 

Ernst is also working with the commission, Veterans Middle School, Marblehead Pickleball, and the neighbors of the school to help mitigate sound from the pickleball courts at Veterans. Ernst said that handling the growth of pickleball in Marblehead all about finding a balance between the players and those affected by the noise.

“I’m all for the growth and support of pickleball, but it’s a balance. We have to look at it that way. We can’t just build and build and build and not be conscientious about where we’re building.”

In regard to the budget cuts to Recreation and Parks, Ernst said that the department has still been able to provide basic town services like mowing the lawns, but it has been a struggle to do “some of the little things.”

“We’re constantly looking at what we can do, what we can’t do, how much money we need to do it, and prioritizing those things,” Ernst said. “I think the department has done a really good job at getting bye with what they have. These are lean years, they have been for a while.”

In an email interview, Ernst said that “two things come to mind,” when talking about the departments budget.

“The first is to continue to look at our current budget… all the time… and make sure that every dollar the town allocates to us is spent responsibly,” Ernst said. “We need to continue to look at the money that the Parks brings into the town and evaluate if a change needs to be made that would benefit the town and in turn benefit us.”

Ernst said that her second thought is to create a “Passive Parks Trust” that would allow for people who are passionate about long term care of the town’s parks to donate funds each year that would be allocated to caring for the town’s green spaces.

When asked about the use of organic practices by the department, Ernst said that since 2005, it has had an expert crew in using these practices, and she doesn’t see them going away anytime soon. 

Ernst said that one of her goals if reelected is to continue working with Pal Bickford at Town Trees and Urban Forestry “to promote, educate, and build support around the Marblehead urban Forestry and Landscaping Donation Fund.”