Park district, village consider sharing recreation director/park director

by Sue Serdinak

April 25 RJRD meeting

Officials of Richfield Village and the Richfield Joint Recreation District are considering sharing a recreation director/park director.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Richfield Village had a full-time recreation director. During the pandemic, most recreational activities were canceled, and the mayor’s executive assistant worked as a part-time, interim recreation director.

The Richfield Joint Recreation District hired a full-time park director in 2020, but he resigned in 2021.

Some village and RJRD officials have determined that they can hire one full-time person to fill both positions. That shared job would pay more than the advertised pay for the RJRD park director.

According to the memorandum of understanding prepared by the village, Richfield would make the hire and provide a vehicle but would allow the person to work 20 hours per week for the recreation district.

According to RJRD Chairperson Anita Gantner, the village would pay for all employee benefits.

The memorandum was produced by the Walter Haverfield law firm, which represents both entities and states that if any disputes arise, RJRD would hire outside counsel.

Jeff DeLuca, RJRD vice chairperson, said the arrangement would save the park district money and free up funds to pay more people to work in the park. “This gives us an opportunity to fill some more needs in the park, like a full-time maintenance and staff coordinator,” he said.

However, he said that the memorandum indicates the mayor of the village would do the hiring, and the RJRD board wouldn’t be part of the interview process.

“I was hoping either Anita or someone on the board would be present through all of the interview process to make sure that our needs will be met as well as their needs. … I need some clarification on that,” DeLuca said.

Board member Dave Wehner said the agreement should include an ongoing evaluation of performance.

DeLuca also said the agreement did not include the exact amount the park district would pay toward the salary.

Responding to a question from the floor, Gantner said seven people applied for the park manager position and two had the skills for the RJRD position. “There is reason to believe they would be interested in the joint position,” she added.

The advertised pay for the job was “up to $56,000, commensurate with experience,” with a $500 monthly allowance for health insurance reimbursement.

According to the RJRD website, the responsibilities of the park director include [maintaining] safe and efficient operation of the park, directing and managing park areas and staff, and providing supervision and training to part-time staff and volunteers.

Resident Karen Smik said the previous village recreation director and the previous park director both worked full time and often overtime. “How can one person handle both jobs?” she said.

“It is a concern that we also have,” responded Gantner. “We would prefer having full time. If we get someone who is able to do a good job and work hard, I think it is possible. … The salary is a lot more favorable. There is a 90-day clause, for any reason. It could turn out that this is crazy and 20 hours just doesn’t cut it.”

The board took no action on the memorandum.

Brush chipper 

The board unanimously approved selling its brush chipper to Richfield Township for $20,000. The money from the sale would be put toward the installation of an HVAC system in the Lodge.

In 2021 the park board requested $20,000 from the township’s share of American Recovery Act funds to help pay for the HVAC system in conjunction with $30,000 that the village of Richfield contributed.  The township trustees had not agreed to the contribution.

DeLuca said the park district uses the chipper infrequently, and the township agreed to chip the park’s wood as needed, just as it does for township residents.

After the meeting, township trustee Dan Laubacher said this arrangement serves both the township and the park district.  

The park district purchased the chipper for $28,570 in 2015.


DeLuca reported that concrete work on the lower dam is complete except for cleanup. It will start filling up next month. Work on the upper dam is nearing completion.

He also reported two air conditioning units and and two furnace units have been installed in the Lodge. Another air conditioning unit will be installed.

Air Comfort Inc. submitted the lowest bid of $96,628 for the HVAC system, according to the resolution.

The concrete floor in the Lodge will be polished and stained by Cheetah Floor Systems at a cost of $5,216.

Credit card policy

The board revised its credit card policy to increase the limit from $2,500 to $5,000, if the amount does not exceed the purchase order amount. The policy adds DeLuca as an approved card user.

Drinking fountain

The board approved requesting $4,450 from the Friends of Richfield Heritage Preserve to purchase a public drinking fountain to be installed near the Lodge. The Friends had been holding money paid to them by Fast Girls Running. The board asked the Friends to relinquish the funds.

“Jennifer Douglas [founder of Fast Girls Running] has made donations in the past and made the check out to the Friends,’’ Gantner said. “They have been holding onto the money until there is an agreement on the project. Between the contribution from Friends and other funds, a drinking fountain would be installed between the two outside bathrooms. It is a very fitting use of the money.”

Volunteer guidebook

Volunteer coordinator Susan Czaplicki worked with Ganter to create a volunteer guidebook, which will be put on the district’s website after it is complete. Wehner said the board should not approve the guidebook until it is completed.

“We have been remiss in not having a guidebook,” Gantner said.

“I think it is well done. I commend Susan for working on it. We needed it,” commented board member Maureen McGinty.


Ganter said she failed to have the board vote on the salary for Polly Wheeler when she was hired in February as the administrative assistant. The board approved pay of $19 per hour.

Lodge fund

The board approved establishing a separate fund for the Lodge.

“Ultimately, we are hoping to use revenue from the Lodge for [park] operating expenses, so we won’t be required to put all of the revenues into the fund,” Gantner explained.

In other business

Board member Mike Selig reported that the fund-raising committee is preparing an application for an Earthwork grant.

Board member Mark Robeson reported the marketing committee is planning a speaker series, as well as an open house in June.

He said that Nicole Farley has agreed to handle social media for the park following the retirement of Kathy Donchess.

Wehner reported that the treasury has a balance of $720,000, and he has submitted the paperwork to receive a $140,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the dam work.


Czaplicki reported that employees from Ernst & Young helped plant fascines in a creek bed to deter erosion. Also, members of the Kent State alumni organization made improvements to the Buckeye Trail.

The RHP volunteers picked up trash, stocked firewood, cleaned pack-out buildings, cleared a fence line and prepped a restroom. The bluebird monitors experimented with predator guards.

Corey Ringle reported that the Friends of RHP have engaged a professional fundraiser for the Mill Restoration Project. They are planning a gala for the fall. ∞