Search to begin soon for Parks and Rec Director replacement

Steve Lindaman, the Charles City Parks and Recreation Department director, will retire in May. Press file photo
Steve Lindaman, the Charles City Parks and Recreation Department director, will retire in May. Press file photo
By Kelly Terpstra, kterpstra@charlescitypress.com

Steve Lindaman’s filing system might seem archaic to some, but it gets the job done.

Manilla folders — not computer files — contain records detailing projects that have shaped and transformed Charles City for decades.

Lindaman’s 40-year-plus working relationship with America’s Hometown will come to a close after his retirement in May.

Now, Lindaman, Charles City parks and recreation director since 1982, needs a replacement.

“Hey, I’m old school,” said Lindaman, who has worked for the city since 1976. He sees his replacement as an opportunity to “bring in some new blood and new ideas.”

The search to find Lindaman’s replacement was a key topic touched on at Wednesday’s City Council planning session.

“We’re looking at filling a longtime standing position,” said City Administrator Steven Diers. “Steve has done a great job for us over the years. Here’s our chance to move forward with a new hire. What is the vision for doing that?”

Diers said he plans to advertise for the position starting next week. He said Lindaman’s “official” last day is May 24, but he may delay his retirement for a few more weeks to help his replacement with the transition.

“Depending on who the person is coming in and what their knowledge is and what they need to find out about Charles City and so forth, I’d like a period of a couple weeks at least or so to work with them,” Lindaman said.

Council member Dan Mallaro said the prospective hire will have big shoes to fill.

“You’re looking for a saint. You’re looking for somebody that’s really tremendous if you can meet all those qualifications,” said Mallaro.

Diers, Mayor Dean Andrews, all five council members and three members of the Parks and Rec Board were present at the meeting.

The workload of the position was an area of concern.

“Whenever a person’s in a job for a long time, things get added every year,” said Dennis Petersen, a member of the Parks and Rec Board for 15 years. “Steve has taken on a lot of hats over the years. We’ve asked of him to do a lot of things.

“I don’t know who’s going to come in and take the job, but to expect them to do everything that Steve does, I think, is asking an awful lot,” Petersen said.

Whether or not there needed to be an assistant position created to work with Lindaman’s replacement was discussed.

“Is this a job that has developed into a job that’s too big for one person to do? All the things we want to get done, we can’t ask one person to do all those things?” asked Andrews.

Lindaman, who was not at the council meeting, told the Press his successor would put his or her own personal touch on the position, whether that applicant is fresh out of college or has 20 years of experience in the parks and recreation field.

“As a basis, I think we have things well established. It’s just a matter of continuing to improve and make some minor changes — personalize it,” said Lindaman.

Lindman has been instrumental in creating the Whitewater Park along the riverfront in Charles City, which offers a host of activities to do on the Cedar River. Several council and park board members said increasing recreational use of the river was important to keep in mind when hiring a new director.

“The position has evolved over time. My first year on the park board, if we replaced a board on bleacher that was a big deal,” said Petersen. “Five years ago, we changed the Cedar River forever. It has really evolved and changed.”

Knowing what Charles City is all about was also something that Petersen said was important for the council and board to consider when selecting a candidate to best represent the community and its interests moving forward.

“My concern would be somebody who would come in and take the time to understand Charles City, to understand the culture of Charles City — what’s important, what’s the history of Charles City,” Petersen added.

The city has more parks per capita than most communities its size, according to Lindaman. That takes time and money to manage, he said.

“Every community is unique, some more so. I think Charles City is more so unique in that regard. Everybody is kind of pitching in. It’s not where you have a small town and you have a recreation center and everythings is focused on that,” Lindaman said.

Petersen said it is also important for the person who will be taking over the director position to be able to develop a good relationship with the Charles City Community School District.

There has been ongoing discussion about where the location of the proposed athletic sports complex would be. The Lions Field ball diamonds are owned and under the supervision of the Parks and Rec department.

“I’d like to see somebody who understands the importance of going forward of the cooperation between the school and the city, that that doesn’t turn into a civil war,”  Petersen said.

“There are issues that have to be resolved on both sides. That’s going to be a big challenge for whoever comes in.”

Lindaman prefers pen and paper instead of punching the letters on a keyboard to keep track of an extensive library of projects accomplished over the years.

“If you want to pull out a slide rule and have a contest, I think I can beat any of the new ones,” laughed Lindaman.

Council member DeLaine Freeseman summed up the task of replacing Lindaman.

“One chapter has ended. Where do we write the next chapter?” Freeseman asked.

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