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North Whidbey Park board delays decision

Swimmers, runners and parents will have to wait a while longer before learning who will be the North Whidbey Park and Recreation  District director.

For the second time this month, the commissioners delayed the selection of a new executive director. They were scheduled to hire someone Thursday night.

Ron Rhinehart, president of the five-member board, said they decided to delay the decision to give the board time to meet with a lawyer to make sure the process they used was legal.

He added that the board, while dedicated to volunteering for the park and recreation district, may not be experienced in the nuances overseeing the hiring of a new executive director.

“We’ve made our best efforts and we’ve had good intentions,” Rhinehart said during a break at the Thursday evening North Whidbey Park and Recreation District meeting.

Some people in the community were concerned about the process the commissioners used to come up with the six finalists considered for the position; most notably, the secret “executive session” commissioners held to winnow the field of candidates from 20 down to six, Rhinehart said. Decisions by the board have to be made in public. He added the meeting with the lawyer is needed to ensure the process the district used is legal.

The North Whidbey Park and Recreation District operates the John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool in Oak Harbor along with other such programs as a running club, soccer program and the dog park.

The commissioners held interviews with the finalists via Skype in early April and they had planned to name a replacement for Craig Carlson April 12. They wouldn’t release the names of any of the finalists. However, after concerns arose about the public notification process they used to advertise the meeting, they decided to schedule the decision for April 19. People were concerned that the notification didn’t explicitly state a director would be selected after the interviews wrapped up.

Carlson, who had been executive director for more than eight years, resigned in December, several months before he was planning to retire. North Whidbey Aquajets swim coach Neil Romney has been serving as interim director until a permanent replacement can be found.

Rhinehart, who is resigning his position on the park board at the end of the month, said a date for the special meeting hasn’t been set where the commissioners can meet with the lawyer.

As far as he knows, all six candidates, whose names haven’t been released, are still in contention for the job despite the delays in selecting a new executive director.

 

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