Reorganization continues after park director resigns

Six of 15 positions in staffing overhaul have been addressed 


Clint Riese
News Editor

The City Council last week addressed two more positions of the wide-ranging city staff reorganization plan approved last fall.

To date, the four-phase plan has been implemented on a reactive basis through retirements and resignations. The latest action stems from the resignation of Park Director Renae Reedy and the retirement of building secretary Caroline Norelius.

Reedy accepted a job with Washington County. Her former position was half-time, and will be replaced by a full-time Park and Recreation Coordinator position.

At the March 4 meeting, Councilman Ben Winnick wanted to wait a few months to fill the slot, and Councilman Mike Freer said he does not believe a full-time position is needed, but both voted for the position’s creation because they are on board with the overall reorganization plan.

“When people say that we don’t compromise, this is a compromise,” Freer said. “I don’t like this position in any way, shape or form, but this is what was agreed upon, and when other things that were agreed upon come up, I fully expect that the people here are going to continue to move forward with the plan. I think (City Administrator Aaron Parrish’s) plan is excellent; it’s very well conceived.”

The former park director position earned full benefits despite being part-time, so the bump to a full-time role does not come with a one-to-one cost increase, Mayor Chris Johnson noted.

“To me, it’s clear that 20 hours a week is not enough to take on the agenda of the Park Department,” added Johnson, the council liaison to the Park Board.

Parrish said the additional hours will be needed for new duties, such as grant-writing and working with engineers on trail development. The part-time role barely sufficed for the position’s role with events such as Flake Festival, Lake Fest and the summer Arts in the Park series, he said.

“Really it just gets down to execution,” Parrish said. “We had a person that’s been on 20 hours a week and I think she’s done what she can do in 20 hours a week and done a nice job for us that way. But, a lot of times … some things lack, just because of execution. An example is the dog park. We really tried to have a more aggressive effort in raising funds for that, but we really haven’t been able to execute and put the time to it.”

Parrish said whomever is hired for the position will need to demonstrate adaptability because priorities are subject to the whim of others.

“There’s sort of a normal basket and portfolio of responsibilities, but a lot of things with this type of position are going to be dictated on where you as a council, the Park Board and the community want to go with it,” he said.

Recruitment for the opening is underway. The position’s Grade 6 salary range is $48,921 to $61,152. The Park and Recreation Coordinator will not be a department head. The position falls in the Administration Department and reports to the city administrator.

The council approved hiring Nate Moats as fire technician, which is the position replacing building secretary. Moats was among four Forest Lake Fire Department members to apply for the opening.

Fire technician is one of five new split-duty positions to be created through the reorganization to boost daytime fire response.

The fire technician’s primary role involves permits for building inspections and site plan reviews. In this capacity, Moats will report to building official Chad Payment, who was hired the week before for the first split-duty position.

The priority role for Moats will be to respond to fire calls.

Moats is a senior CNC machinist at Advanced Research Corporation. He also is the secretary and administrative coordinator for the Fire Department.

His work in the latter role helped his candidacy for the fire technician position.

“I know that position a lot of times had been difficult for us in terms of getting good information from the Fire Department in terms of payroll and (such),” Parrish said. “I know that when Nate’s come on, our staff has really been happy with the work he’s done.”

Moats will start work March 24.

Counting the two items from the council meeting, six of 15 positions to be affected in the reorganization plan have now been addressed.

Permit amendment

In other business, the council approved a conditional use permit amendment allowing Lakes Trading Company to expand the hours of its indoor gun range at 95 SW Eighth Ave.

Owner Ben Oliver said the new hours will allow groups to rent the entire range without displacing other customers.

Police Chief Rick Peterson said his department has not heard any concerns since the range opened last year.