The city of Decorah will advertise for a new Parks and Recreation director over the objections of Decorah City Council member Randy Schissel.

Monday night, Council member Rachel Vagts, chair of the Council's personnel committee, reported the job description had been revised during meetings she and Council member Gary Rustad had with the Park-Rec Board. Rick Edwards retired as director earlier this month. Vagts suggested applications be accepted through the end of February.



No longer needed

Schissel said since three department heads have been created within the Park-Rec Department, he failed to see the need for a director.

"What are they (director) supervising?" he asked.

Park-Rec has a full-time recreation superintendent, campground superintendent and park superintendent. Operations of the Decorah swimmimg pool are now handled within the city's water department.

Vagts said the majority involved in the discussions of the job description revisions were in favor of keeping a director for setting vision, developing the budget and doing outreach for the city.

"Those things continue to be important to the Park-Rec Board," she said.

Schissel said the department has evolved to the point that the director's position is no longer needed.

"We have qualified people in place who can do it ... this is an opportunity to grow other parts of the city with the money we can save here. We should take a hard look and add people in other departments as needed," he said.

"There's a lot of work to be done in the (Park-Rec) department," Vagts said.

The director serves as an "umbrella" helping the components of the department function together, she added.

None of the other Council members expressed concerns about hiring a new director, and Vagts said the process shouldn't be held up for one person with a minority opinion.

Council member Carolyn Corbin said she heard from constituents who want the director to be a "steward" of the city's natural resources.

The city has more than 500 acres of parkland. Corbin said invasive species, such as garlic mustard, are capable of eradicating native species if left unchecked.