City makes changes in Parks and Rec Department

Published 9:52 am Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Department is now officially split.

Interim Recreation Director Bob Furland is being promoted to recreation manager, and Joe Grossman will serve as parks superintendent.

Furland will report to Assistant City Manager Jerry Gabrielatos, and Grossman will report to a new assistant public works director.

Chad Adams

Chad Adams

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“They really seemed to both thrive under that scenario,” Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams said. “In addition to that, just the customer service compliments that we received, the additional offerings that we’ve provided to the community, along with some of the project accomplishments, such as the dog park and some of the other recreation programs.”

The two areas of the Parks and Recreation Department had previously been under one leader.

Furland was appointed interim director of recreation and Grossman was named interim director of parks while officials reviewed long-term options after former Parks and Recreation Director Jay Hutchison retired last February.

The council in 2014 voted 4-3 against whether to reorganize the city’s management structure, which included splitting up the services and responsibilities of the Parks and Recreation Department under other departments and eliminating Hutchison’s position. The reorganization also included changes in other departments and who the directors of those departments would be under. Adams at that time stressed that the proposal did not call for a reduction in services.

With the recent changes, Adams has announced the decision to staff members who are directly involved, the city’s senior management team and the council.

Other staff changes

An assistant public works position is planned to help the city address infrastructure needs. Job postings for the position are expected in the next week or two, and advertising is planned in the next few weeks.

“There’s just a lot of activity going on with a lot of our infrastructure needs … it’s consistently what we see with our community survey, and we think the assistant public works director can help address a lot of the bigger issues and planning moving forward,” Adams said.

The position will help Jahnke in situations such as September’s flooding, Adams said, and will allow Jahnke to focus more on engineering tasks, such as planning road improvements.

Parks, street, utilities and Albert Lea Wastewater Treatment Plant superintendents will all report to the assistant public works director, Adams said.

Changes have allowed the city to add full-time street department employees, Adams said. Two full-time firefighters and a parks employee have also been added.

“So, ust trying to be creative in our organization and our leadership to have good cross training and good succession planning, which are both critical to the success of our organization, both in the short term and the long term,” Adams said.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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