Decorah will advertise for Park and Recreation director
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 10:08 AM
The Decorah City Council has formally approved advertising for a new Park-Rec director.
On a 6-1 vote Monday night, the Council voted to post a recruitment ad for the opening. Rick Edwards retired in January after serving 19 years as director.
Council member Randy Schissel was the only Council member who voted against the motion. Last month, Schissel said the department has evolved to the point the director's position is no longer needed. Three department heads have been created within the Park-Rec Department, he said.
However, whether to hire a new director did not generate discussion Monday night, but the job description did.
Decorah resident Mary Lewis, who has organized volunteers to help eradicate the invasive garlic mustard from Decorah's parks, said the job description needed to address stewardship of parkland.
"Our parks are a wonderful resource," she said.
Preserving and enhancing the parks for future generations should be one of the director's responsibilities, she said. The director also should have experience directing volunteers, she added.
Decorah resident Sharon Rossman, who has volunteered to help rid the parks of garlic mustard, said she hoped to continue to maintain a close relationship with the park system.
Rachel Vagts, chair of the Council's personnel committee, said the job description developed for the position didn't get specific about what Lewis addressed, but does reflect that "intent."
Lewis said she didn't want the city to assume volunteers would always take care of problems like garlic mustard.
"It's good to have institutional support -- I'd like to see the city director take it on more as an obligation that is part of the job ... I'm asking for a firmer commitment to this in order to maintain the beauty and diversity we have," she said.
Council member Paul Wanless said the Council needed to decide whether to proceed with posting the job opening. Meanwhile, he said the job description could be "tweaked."
"Everybody wants to maintain the beauty and integrity of our parks. If we start listing every detail in a job description, it's going to be a pretty long job description," he said. "Some things are covered generally and we still have expectations that department heads and others in that department will take those challenges seriously."
Vagts said Lewis' comments generated a "fantastic interview question."
Council member Carolyn Corbin said the job description doesn't have to be "too specific," but could still embrace the concerns raised.
Corbin said the job description should also reflect the new director should be able to fulfill the visions the city and the Park Rec-Board have for the department.
Park-Rec Board member Kathy Bakken agreed the job description could be revised, but encouraged the Council to move forward with advertising for the director's position. She said Board members would be involved with candidate interviews and would have the opportunity to provide their opinions. She said the Board would share its goals and vision to make sure whoever is hired is "on board."
The Council reached a consensus to revise the recruitment advertisement to reflect the concerns raised Monday. The job opening is posted on the city's website, decorahia.org, and the ad will appear in next Tuesday's Public Opinion.