New parks and recreation director looks forward to dual position

by Dan Holland

For John Piepsny, who began a dual position on Aug. 8 serving both as Richfield Village Parks and Recreation Director and park director for Richfield Joint Recreation District, being a quick study and implementing new programs for both entities are first on his list of immediate goals.

Piepsny brings more than 25 years of experience, having worked in similar positions in Brunswick, Ohio, and Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania. He was intrigued by the dual position being offered in Richfield.

“Given the fact that they made it a joint position with the Village of Richfield and the Richfield Joint Recreation District, that was very unique to me,” he said. “That took two progressive entities coming together to try to create one purpose and goal of having the parks and recreation department running through them, and I found that very interesting.”

Piepsny said he is accustomed to taking on a wide variety of roles in the field. He will be presenting reports to each body at meetings.

A couple of challenges moving forward consist of reestablishing recreation programs and looking for new sources of funding for two diverse park systems. Whereas Richfield Village has playgrounds and sports fields, along with two passive parks, Richfield Heritage Preserve has no sports fields.  Both parks offer facilities for rent, possibly competing for the same clients.

“In my field, you wear many different hats at many different times throughout the year, and I’m used to that,” he said. “Whether it was in Brunswick or Cheltenham, it might be handling a concern from a resident while at the same time preparing to run a recreation program. You have to juggle many different functions, and I don’t see that as a really big challenge.”

 “We’re coming out of the COVID time period, so the challenge is to reignite the recreation program that we’ve had in a new way,” said Piepsny. “Funding is always an issue, so we want to look into creative ways to increase funding; to create new programs for the residents. I’ve been involved in many public-private partnerships through sponsorships, and I’m always looking for different ways of trying to be creative with our resources not only in the village of Richfield, but also throughout the county to see how we can make the parks and recreation department be as effective and as efficient as possible to better serve the residents.”

Piepsny is currently compiling a list of ideas to present to both Richfield Village Council and the RJRD Board.

“I’ve worked for many different boards and councils over the years, and now I get to work for two different boards. So that’s going to be very exciting for me,” he said. “And, in looking at the parks in general, I have a lot of ideas I’ve already been discussing with the mayor that I’d love to try to implement moving forward.”

Piepsny and wife Mary live in North Royalton with their three sons, ages 11, 14 and 16. The couple recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.

“I’m really looking forward to the position, and I encourage any residents to give me a call if they have any ideas, questions or concerns,” said Piepsny. ”I would be happy to address them within the parameters I’m given.”  ∞

Photo: John Piepsny is the new village recreation director and the RJRD park director. Photo by S. Serdinak.