Parks director jumps in with both feet

Gino Wolfe, the newly-hired director for North Whidbey Parks and Recreation, said he wants to increase attendance at John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool.  - Michelle Beahm/Whidbey News-Times
Gino Wolfe, the newly-hired director for North Whidbey Parks and Recreation, said he wants to increase attendance at John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool.
— image credit: Michelle Beahm/Whidbey News-Times

The new director for North Whidbey Parks and Recreation District is jumping into the his role with both feet.

Gino Wolfe said he retired from a 29-year career in the Navy and when he saw the parks and rec district was hiring for the key position.

“I’ve been dealing with management and HRO (Human Resources Office) issues probably most of my career, so I thought I would fit in great here,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe retired from the Navy as the command master chief of the naval base in November 2013. He said he doesn’t really have a background in aquatics, but will be taking a class in the subject in a few weeks.

His first week as the director of the district was spent “like a fish out of the water,” Wolfe said, but added he’s been learning on the job about the details of the district and the its programs.

“I’m getting a good grasp of it,” he said.

He said is favorite part about his new job is working with the interaction with pool people.

“I love dealing with people, whether it’s the staff or just the people coming in and talking to them,” he said.

“That’s the best part of my job so far.”

The downside of that is when families have concerns or issues with how the district runs things, he said, but added he doesn’t mind addressing those things.

Wolfe moved to the area in 1998. Until accepting the new job, he said he was involved with the parks and rec district as a patron, swimming in the pool and visiting the parks or participating in various leagues.

“Not really … interacting with the district, mostly just as clientele, whether it’s using the fields that are available, the pool, stuff like that,” he said.

Though he’s new to the job, Wolfe said he’s established goals for the the district, including expanding the programs currently offered.

Wolfe said he wants to take a look at other parks and recreation districts in the state and look at their programs, and start gathering ideas to incorporate into the North Whidbey Parks and Rec district in the future.

“Of course, you always want to see attendance rise and stuff like that,” he said. “Better relationships with the community, get more people here, build up our swim team, our fitness club and just overall make this a better place for everybody.”

Barriers to adding more programs include the limited available space and money, Wolfe said, but he intends to bring some ideas up to the district’s board of commissioners in the future.

“Of course, you’re always going to have those few that have issues or concerns that they want to see improvements there, would like to see rectified,” Wolfe said

“But overall, it’s been a positive experience for me so far.”


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