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The retirement of Parks Division Manager Dick McIntyre has prompted a reorganization of Parks and Recreation.
“Whenever a major figure retires, it’s always a good time to look at how you do business, and are there things that need addressing or changing or improving or just a different model than you’ve had for all these years,” said Community Services Director Charlie Kalogeros-Chattan.
Instead of separate division managers for parks and recreation, with open space a facet of parks, the entire unit will be integrated under one division manager and renamed Parks, Recreation and Open Space.
Recreation Division Manager Randy Smith will be promoted to the new position. Some of the parks manager’s duties will be reassigned to Parks Superintendent Jeff Humpton.
Council approved the reorganization as well as new job descriptions for the community and economic development director and three hydroelectric positions in the Department of Utilities by a 7–0 vote.
“Part of what we’re trying to do is consolidate parks and rec so there is more interplay between the function and programming of a park and how the recreation division does events,” Kalogeros-Chattan said. “There’s a lot of opportunity there for collaboration.”
According to Kalogeros-Chattan, the disc golf course at North Mesa Park sets an example for positive collaboration between parks and recreation.
On the flip side, the director cited the initial conflict between trail users and golf course designers over proposed golf course renovations as an example of what can go wrong when communication between the divisions breaks down.
“The golf course is run by recreation, the trails are run by parks, and there was a big gap there in the middle in terms of communication that I think probably would not have occurred in quite the same way if it had been a unified division.
“But when we did get into it, it was an amazing thing, because all of a sudden we could understand the bigger picture of here’s this golf course green space that’s used by other people as well as by golfers. And one of the things that came up at that moment was the possibility of creating a regional park there that would protect the green space.”
Under the new structure, open space will weigh in equally with parks and recreation.
“We’re doing that partly to give open space bigger, better airtime, as a nod to how important that’s becoming to the community,” Kalogeros-Chattan said, noting that the increased importance of open space is a national trend.
“It’s a way of putting resources toward it, too. If you’re not calling it out and setting goals for it, it’s really hard to put resources to it. It becomes happenstance, and not planned, and with shrinking resources, we always have to be careful of planning making sure that we’re doing things in the wisest way possible.”
The new division bucks the trend of moving parks to public works divisions, where the county’s parks division was at the turn of the century.
“Parks departments do not want to be part of public works, because the construction and maintenance that occurs in public parks is only one part of what a park is to a community,” Kalogeros-Chattan said. “There’s all the other stuff that goes along with that, which is the programming and how the park will be used and landscaping in an architectural way or having architectural elements in a park.
“So the consideration really is how are you using your parks and what’s your vision for what you want them to be.”
When council heard the proposal on Tuesday, Council Chair Geoff Rodgers conveyed some citizens’ concerns that expertise such as McIntyre’s would be lost under the reorganization.
Kalogeros-Chattan responded that there was no guarantee that a new parks manager would have a landscape architecture degree such as McIntyre had. She also pointed out that Humpton has college coursework in ornamental horticulture and worked closely with McIntyre on many of the division’s projects.
“He’s really the unsung hero in a lot of the work you see,” Kalogeros-Chattan said.
Kalogeros-Chattan said that park design could be contracted out for either individual parks or for a master plan based on the community’s vision.
Kalogeros-Chattan is also optimistic that residents will come to trust Smith.
“The public that intersects with Randy I think will really enjoy him. I know that Dick McIntyre had devotees and fans, and I’m hoping that they will have a level of confidence in Randy as well. And I think they will over time, as they come to know him.”
Kalogeros-Chattan concluded with, “So that’s the plan, to bring it all together and create a shared vision that harmonizes all the way around, with more involvement between the two staffs and better communication.”