At Truckee rec/park district, ‘we weathered the economic storm pretty well’
TRUCKEE, Calif. — With 2016 being an election year, the Sierra Sun is devoting time each week to conduct interviews with officials and board members who work for the many public districts and government agencies representing Truckee and North Lake Tahoe.
This week, we feature a Q-and-A with Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District General Manager Steve Randall.
Sierra Sun: How would you describe the state of the district today?
Steve Randall: I think the district is very strong. We have facilities that rival communities 10 times our size. A lot of specialized facilities like Frisbee golf; ice rink; 37 public piers; a beach facility; handicap fishing ramp; a boat ramp; rodeo arena. So the community is pretty lucky to have these types of facilities. You might find one of these specialized facilities in a community our size, not the myriad of the ones we have.
Sun: What’s the top one or two biggest challenges the district faces in 2016?
Randall: I think the biggest challenge always is funding. Money is always fairly tight but we’ve done a good job of managing it. We weathered the economic storm pretty well; we didn’t have to close any facilities or lay any staff off. But everything costs money so it’s trying to balance everything as best as we can.
Sun: As we embark on the second half of the decade, what improvements do you want to see with the district by 2020?
Randall: The district just completed an assessment of all our facilities and we now have a laundry list of everything that needs to be fixed or brought up to speed, so hopefully we can attack that list as much as possible based on funding availability. I believe the facilities are in top-notch condition but everything can always use a little bit more help.
We’ll be entering a little bit into a maintenance mode. We’ve been in a building mode for quite a few years, providing new facilities and things so now we got to step back and look at maintaining them to a high quality level.
Sun: How does the district balance the needs of locals versus second homeowners and visitors when delivering service?
Randall: Our priority is locals and second homeowners, because second homeowners also pay property taxes, which is a huge part of our funding base. So we look at those facilities when it comes to tourists and things, they fit in great but that’s not our priority so we look to provide facilities and programs for the people that live here and/or are second homeowners.
A good example of a second homeowner thing would be the Fourth of July. We do a big celebration at the West End Beach with fireworks. Well, in order to get into that particular event you have to either be a resident of the community or a property owner. So if you’re just a tourist, you couldn’t buy a ticket to that event.
Sun: In this modern era of smartphones and social media how is the district changing how it communicates important information to the community?
Randall: About a year ago we hired a marketing manager, a young guy (Kyle Jost), and so he’s working on all that. To date, I think he’s got about 2,000 people on Facebook or on Snap Chat.
We’re moving into all those types of things. We just recently launched a new registration system so people can sign up online, and it’s a lot easier to do so. We’re revamping our website, as well. So we realize that’s the way of the world and so we need to stay up with those times and modify what we’re doing to accommodate that.
Sun: How’s the progress going on the new aquatic center?
Randall: We will be open the first week of September, which is pretty exciting because it really ties in the existing, the new community center, with that (aquatic center) facility. So the nice thing is with a family, the dad can go play basketball, the mom can take an exercise class, the kids can go swimming … It will be kind of a one-stop recreation place for everybody.
Sun: Anything else you’d like to add regarding the district or its future?
Randall: The district has a great staff and board of directors, and I think the people need to be aware of that. We’re not your typical 9-to-5 type people. I think the people that work here, work here because they like what they do and they present themselves in a very professional way. Our job is to provide smiles and happiness, and that’s what we do.
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