City parks and recreation department approved

Oak Harbor will have a parks and rec department that oversees the marina, parks and senior services.

The city of Oak Harbor will have a parks and recreation department that oversees the marina, parks and senior services divisions.

Currently, the marina and senior services report to the city administrator and parks reports to the public works director.

Upgrading the current parks manager position to a parks and recreation director position will cost the city an estimated $40,000 a year.

The power and duties of the department will include conducting any form of recreation or cultural activity, and promoting, managing, developing and operating parks. The new parks and recreation director will report to City Administrator Blaine Oborn.

At the June 12 city council meeting, Oborn said that there are “rumors out there that I have a designated person” for the parks and recreation director position. He said that this wasn’t true and even if he did, he wouldn’t have the authority to appoint them as council will be heavily involved in the interview process.

“Council will clearly have an active role, so that kind of addresses that rumor there that is absolutely not true,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Beth Munns said while she thought the creation of the department was exciting, she was still concerned about staffing, especially in regard to manual labor needed to upkeep parks.

“You need to guarantee we’re going to have an operational manager underneath this director position to handle the parks,” she said.

The parks manager position is currently vacant. The city has had trouble filling it after longtime Parks Director Hank Nydam retired in 2020.

Councilmember Eric Marshall agreed with the change and said that he didn’t want to “leave parks in a lurch.”

Councilmember Bryan Stucky said he asked the senior services director and the harbormaster how they felt about having another level of management above their positions.

“To my surprise, they were all for it,” he said.

Stucky asked Oborn how much time he currently spends with senior services and the marina.

“Not enough,” he responded.

He said if funding wasn’t an issue, he would prefer to keep the parks manager position, along with adding the parks and recreation director.

“This ordinance just creates the new position,” Oborn said. “It doesn’t talk about how it’s funded or how it’s done.”

Munns and Councilmember Tara Hizon both said they hoped an operational manager for the parks could be included in a future budget.

Council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance.