Elk River poised to relaunch search for parks director

by Joni Astrup
Associate editor
The Elk River City Council is looking to relaunch its search for a parks and recreation director.
The position has been vacant since Bill Maertz left in June for a job in California. The city advertised the position, interviewed candidates and offered the job to Michelle Olson in a 4-1 vote in October. But Olson, parks and recreation manager for the city of Arden Hills, declined it. She cited an unexpected personal situation that came up after she was interviewed.
Now the search is about to get underway again.
The city council discussed it briefly at a work session on Monday, Jan. 10, and the Elk River Parks and Recreation Commission plans to review the job description on Wednesday, Jan. 12. The city council is expected to discuss the matter again on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
At the Jan. 10 city council meeting, Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Dave Anderson asked the city council to not just fill the position, but fill it with the right person.
“And if you don’t find the right person, keep looking,” Anderson told the council. “It’s a key community position.”

The parks and recreation director position is a super department head overseeing not only parks and recreation but the ice arena, library, Pinewood Golf Course, senior center and activity center. Maertz was Elk River’s first parks and recreation director. He held the position for six years.

Mayor: Standardize department head hiring

In a related matter, Elk River Mayor John Dietz is proposing that the city standardize the committees it appoints to oversee the process of  hiring department heads.
“I just think we need to standardize this process,” Dietz told the city council during a Jan. 10 work session. “… It’s been all over the board how we’ve done it.”
City Administrator Lori Johnson said that would be very helpful.
Dietz’s comments came as the city considers relaunching its search for a parks and recreation director.
He suggested department head hiring committees consist of the city administrator, a representative from the city board or commission associated with the position, one council member and one or two people with similar jobs working in other cities.
Johnson suggested one Elk River department head also be on the committee, and Dietz agreed.
Once a committee is assembled, Dietz said he’d like to see the committee interview the top applicants and then send two finalists to the city council for final interviews and consideration.

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