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January 27
1970 - Gov. Ronald Reagan appoints Adrian Adams as Newhall's first "second" judge [story]
Adrian Adams


More than a year and a half after Rick Gould announced he was retiring as the city of Santa Clarita’s longtime director of Recreation, Community Service, Arts and Open Space, the city is moving to hire a permanent replacement to head the department.

The city has streamlined the title to Recreation and Community Services, but Arts and Open Space remain in the department.

“The new director of Recreation and Community Services needs to understand and know how to guide the day-to-day operations, but also be entrepreneurial, with a vision of where we can go in the future,” said Frank Oviedo, Santa Clarita’s assistant city manager, who is spearheading the city’s executive search.

“It’s a real opportunity for somebody to come in and shape the future of recreation programming in Santa Clarita for the next 10, 15, 20 years,” he said.

Oviedo has also been serving as interim director of Recreation and Community Services since Gould’s departure, after 16 years, in early December 2017.

The city posted notice of the job opening on March 20 of this year, also hiring executive search firm CPS to cast a wider net for qualified candidates outside the Santa Clarita Valley.

The position’s annual salary range is $167,377.60 to $203,465.60, according to the city’s official job description.

Frank Oviedo, Santa Clarita Assistant City Manager

Frank Oviedo, Santa Clarita Assistant City Manager

Applications were accepted through April 15, and the evaluation process is underway, though Oviedo would not divulge how many applications were received or who applied by the deadline.

“The next step is to review those applications and distill the number down to a pool that we’ll want to interview, and then we’ll set up some interview panels and go on from there,” Oviedo said. “Ideally, we’ll have someone in place by summertime, but it’s really when the process has been completed.”

While the city is not limiting itself to candidates from the Santa Clarita Valley, Oviedo acknowledges a local resident may have an edge.

“Ideally, they should have some additional knowledge, almost inside knowledge, if you will, about Santa Clarita that could help them be successful in recruitment,” he said.

“It certainly is an advantage to know the culture of Santa Clarita and how we recreate out here, because it is unique,” Oviedo said. “I go to the City Manager Conferences, and I know city managers up and down the state. We are a different type of city. We’re even different than Los Angeles, in a lot of ways, because we actually do have land, and we do have open space, and a lot of people move out here because of those things. So if there is a candidate in the pool that understands Santa Clarita, they probably will have some advantage.”

* * * * *

Rick Gould at AMGEN Tour of California, Santa Clarita, Feb. 24, 2007. | Photo: Stephen K. Peeples.

Rick Gould at AMGEN Tour of California, Santa Clarita, Feb. 24, 2007. Gould was a key player in bringing the race to Santa Clarita. | Photo: Stephen K. Peeples.

Rick Gould was the Santa Clarita’s Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, which included Arts and Open Space, from 2001 through 2016, when the city reorganized the division.

Parks oversight was moved to the Public Works Department, headed by Robert Newman, and Gould’s title changed then to Director of Recreation, Community Services and Open Space. Arts remained under Gould’s direction as well.

“Now, planning of new parks in Santa Clarita is a collaboration of the Public Works, Neighborhood Services, and Recreation and Community Services departments,” said Carrie Lujan, city spokesperson.

“Public Works oversees the design and construction and Neighborhood Services cares for and maintains the parks, while Recreation and Community Services is responsible for programming park activities,” Lujan said.

The city of Santa Clarita's Neighborhood Services crews now maintain the city's parks.

The city of Santa Clarita’s Neighborhood Services crews now maintain the city’s parks.

The gap between Gould’s retirement and hiring of a replacement was by design, per Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin, who asked Oviedo to step in on an interim basis and take a reading on the division’s past, present and future.

“It made sense for us to spend some time trying to understand where the whole recreation and community services functions were going and what we need for the next director,” Oviedo said.

“So I’ve spent more than a year looking at the operations so we can project into the future as best as possible, and find the individual who would best be able to run the department potentially for the next 10, 15, 20 years,” he said.

It’s widely known what a key player Gould was in developing the city’s parks, recreation, arts and open space, and he was well-respected in and beyond the community.

But did Oviedo unearth any bodies buried in Central Park, figuratively speaking, in his year-plus evaluation?

santa clarita open space“Oh, no, no!” he said, laughing. “The great thing about it is, I learned a number of things. One is that Rick had a really important job. Another is that we have a very high-functioning department. We run recreation programs as well as anybody in the state — I would argue even better, because we’ve been doing it for a while now, and we’ve got a bunch of award-winning programs. So I found all those things are already in place.

“Could we improve on them? Absolutely,” he said. “There are always ways to find efficiencies in any organization.”

Oviedo noted that after Santa Clarita formed its Open Space Preservation District in July 2007, Gould was instrumental in acquiring more properties over the past decade.

“If you ask anybody who lives in Santa Clarita, they love our trail system, they love our open space, because we have all these natural lands around the valley that really have come to define how people recreate here,” Oviedo said.

“The question I kept asking myself once I was in the (interim) position was, ‘What is the next phase for the district?'” he said.

Oviedo pointed out the city is receiving an ever-increasing number of requests from groups and organizations for permits to use open space areas for special events.

“I’ve determined there are real opportunities to do more programming in our open space, our natural areas, that we’re not currently taking full advantage of,” he said. “We are to some extent. We do have obviously the trails, maps are online, and we do some events.

“But I want the next director to really spend time programming the open space, and get a handle on the permit requests, and make a more formalized process to get those permits,” Oviedo said.

“Now, do we want to program our open space every day of the year? Absolutely not,” he said. “But when it does happen, we want somebody who can see how to use the open space very strategically, in ways that will help define who we are as a city, and who really understands the nuts and bolts of how to do that.”

Oviedo said he’s enjoyed his time as interim director of Recreation, Community Services, Arts and Open Space.

“We have some of the best staff I’ve ever worked around,” he said. “They love their jobs. That’s not to say others don’t enjoy their jobs, but there’s a certain culture about recreation that really builds you up. Our staff are so enthusiastic, quite frankly, it’s infectious.”

“It’s fun to go out and see them working with our residents, putting on programs, having a good time with families,” he said. “Some of these kids — they’ll score their very first touchdown or base hit at one of our games, and we get to witness that. What other job in city government, or working generally, do you get an opportunity to see a parent excited about their kid doing something for the first time like that? It’s absolutely been a good year for me.”

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1 Comment

  1. Mark Bohleen says:

    Just a member of your cities softball league for 35 years now. Any chance the new person will focus on how much the teams have to pay to play. I remember back in the 80’s we had less people living here and twice as many teams playing. Maybe check into the softball field conditions it seems the city has neglected this for the past 5 years.

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SCV NewsBreak
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