After a bit of bluster, board agrees to parks director plan Print
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Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 19:29

Park and Rec officials sign off on proposal not to hire new department head

    Just weeks after two board members fervently opposed the idea of not hiring a new parks and recreation director, the Parks and Recreation Board on Tuesday unanimously endorsed the idea of promoting two current employees to handle the director’s duties instead of hiring a new department head.
    The change — which will mark the first time in recent history when the department won’t be headed by a single director — paves the way for Recreation Supr. Kiley Schulte and city forester Jon Crain to take the reins of the department and replace former director Charlie Imig, who resigned Nov. 8.
    Board members approved the recommendation subject to the city hiring adequate support staff to help the two, particularly Schulte, who will be in charge of the parks and recreation office.
    “As long as we give Kiley and Jon the support they need, I think it’s something we should try for 2018,” Ald. Jonathan Pleitner, a member of the board, said.
    City Administrator Mark Grams, who suggested the reorganization, said it is expected to save the city as much as $50,000 next year while placing qualified candidates in jobs where they can shine.
    “You’ve got people who can do this,” he told the board.  “In talking to Kiley and Jon, they both feel they can handle it.
    “I’d like to at least give it a shot. If I’m wrong and you need a parks and recreation director, we can look at it next year.”        Schulte will be in charge of the recreation programs, duties she is already largely handling, Grams said, while Crain will be in charge of maintaining the parks.
    “The biggest thing to making this all work is communication,” Crain said. “I know this is a big challenge. I’m open to it.”
    Schulte said she, too, is ready for the challenge, noting her focus in the first year will be on staffing the department well.
    “I feel as though there will be a lot of hurdles to the job,” she said. “But I feel confident in this position, if you guys are supportive of me, we will be successful.”
    Board member Aaron Paulin said he was concerned about the change, especially considering how rapidly it is occurring.
    “I’m concerned for the success of our department,” he said. “I feel uncomfortable.”
    However, after hearing from Schulte and Crain, Paulin voted in favor of the change.
    “The important thing is we all want the same thing, to have a really great park system and a really good recreation program,” board member Patty Lemkuil said.
    The board recommended the reorganization contingent on the city hiring a three-quarter time administrative assistant for the recreation supervisor and approval of a revised job description for Schulte.