Dover seeks ‘well-organized’ Parks & Recreation director

DOVER — The city of Dover is searching for an extremely flexible person to take control and help shape the future of its Parks and Recreation division.

The ideal candidate must be well-organized, enjoy indoor and outdoor activity, and work well with both adults and children.

At the Council Committee of the Whole meeting at City Hall on Tuesday night, the Legislative, Finance and Administration Committee unanimously recommended authorization for the city to recruit a Parks and Recreation director.

City Manager Donna Mitchell said the timing is right to find a qualified candidate to fill the position. She said the job will be posted in the local newspapers and in a trade publication and hopes to have it filled as soon as March 1.

“We’re getting ready to start with the Master Plan,” Mrs. Mitchell said. “On the next agenda is the Dover Park Master Plan and the work in this area is going to pick up so I want to try to get this position filled as quickly as possible.”

Dover has not had a sole Parks and Recreation director since Zachery Carter, who was hired as the division’s director in 1988, retired from the position in 2012.

Ann Marie Townshend, former director of Planning and Community Development for Dover, took over running the Parks and Recreation Department in 2013, in effect taking on two jobs for the city.

Mrs. Townshend held both posts until she accepted a position as Lewes’ city manager last March.

Margie Cyr, who has served as chief librarian at the Dover Public Library since September 2008, took on the dual role of leading the Parks and Recreation Department last Oct. 4 on a six-month trial basis.

Ms. Cyr’s trial appointment at splitting her time between both the Library and Parks and Recreation departments did not require approval by city council. She was compensated with a five percent pay increase during her Parks and Recreation trial run.

In a letter dated Jan. 17 to the Legislative, Finance and Administration Committee, Mrs. Mitchell detailed the city’s efforts to recruit a new Parks and Recreation director.

“As you may recall, this past summer Ms. Margery Cyr, Library director, agreed to accept additional responsibility for the Parks and Recreation Division,” Mrs. Mitchell wrote. “While Ms. Cyr is very capable of providing supervision and programming expertise, she has recommended we hire a Division director that also has expertise in parkland planning and management.

“Ms. Cyr has agreed to continue to provide oversight and direction to the Division until we can hire a full-time Parks and Recreation director. Therefore, I am now requesting permission to recruit a Parks and Recreation director in order to address the needs of the Division.”

Mrs. Mitchell said the new Parks and Recreation director position would be graded the same Grade 127 as the Library director.

The beginning market based salary, per the city’s non-bargaining pay scale, is $67,900 and estimated benefits of $33,000 would increase the city’s annual budget by around $100,000. There may be some adjustment depending on qualifications of the applicant.

Mrs. Mitchell added the Fiscal Year 2018 budget has sufficient savings in the Grounds Division, due to employee turnover, to cover an estimated $40,800 needed to hire a new director by March 1.

When Ms. Cyr accepted the Parks and Recreation role last October, Assistant City Manager Kirby Hudson said it is a position that includes a lot of responsibility.

The Parks and Recreation division currently has five full-time and 14 part-time employees.

The Parks and Recreation director’s role is a big one, considering he or she will not only be accountable for the recreational programs offered by the city, but also for overseeing 28 parks, including the large anchor parks of Schutte Park, Silver Lake Park and Dover Park.

“It’s a very big job,” Mr. Hudson said. “What the city is definitely feeling is that the public in general would like to see more programming and a new revamping for an entity to potentially take care of the parks down the road.

“We have so many parks and way things have been handled is Public Works has been using their folks for making repairs and grass cutting, etc.

“Now people are asking for more parks. If this continues we may have to — in the future — have a separate division or group of people to take care of parks.”

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