(Feb. 7, 2014) One minor detail in the city’s “help wanted” ads could spell a big progression for how the city handles and plans special events.
The Town of Ocean City began advertising late last week for a new Director of Recreation and Parks, anticipating the retirement of current department head Tom Shuster on April 1.
But the new director will be hired under slightly different circumstances, as the city’s Special Events Division – previously organized under the Recreation and Parks umbrella – will be broken off and relocated to the convention and tourism offices.
“We’re trying to develop a synergy between tourism, the convention center, the new Performing Arts Center, and special events, as we try to work toward becoming a more year-round destination,” said City Manager David Recor.
The city’s special events staff works out of Northside Park with the rest of the Recreation and Parks Department. The convention center houses its own staff as well as the city’s Tourism Department.
“The logistics of the move are still being worked out, but the goal is to make the transition before the new director gets here,” said Special Events Superintendent Frank Miller, who was hired to head the division last spring after the retirement of the previous superintendent, John “Sully” Sullivan.
“I’ll miss working in the same building as Tom and Susan [Petito, Assistant Director of Recreation and Parks], who were kind of my mentors for my first nine months here,” Miller said. “But I also have a great relationship with Donna [Abbott, Tourism Director] and Larry [Noccolino, Convention Center Director].”
“I think it’ll be an opportunity to really look at how special events are placed within the town.”
The application deadline for the director’s position is Feb. 14, with Recor hoping to have a new hire in place by the time Shuster departs.
“We’re advertising through national listings, but I expect most of the interest to be regional,” Recor said. “I have had one fellow from Florida, who was involved with the PGA, interested because of the golf course. We have a lot of amenities here that make our department attractive to people in the industry.”
After Shuster announced his retirement, Recor had looked at further re-organizations of the department, including the possibility of moving parks maintenance operations under the Department of Public Works, or placing the Ocean City Beach Patrol under another public safety organ instead of having it as a division of Recreation and Parks.
“We looked into all of those options and went back and forth on it, but ultimately decided it just wasn’t the right time to make those changes,” Recor said.
The department’s primary operation is running the dozens of camps, sports leagues, and other activities that take place in the city’s parks and public facilities.
“We wanted the department to be concentrated more on recreation programming,” Recor said.