Parks director abruptly steps down

After less than seven months on the job, Kitsap County Facilities, Parks and Recreation Director Mark Mauren resigned this week.

Mauren was in the middle of developing the county’s open space plan, among other projects.

Mauren informed Kitsap County administrator Cris Gears of his decision on Monday. Gears immediately recruited Operations and Maintenance supervisor Beverly Reeves to fill in on an interim basis — as she did last year — and made the announcement on Tuesday.

“We didn’t get a chance to say goodbye,” Reeves said. “He was just gone.”

Gears said Mauren left suddenly because, “He didn’t want to have this hanging over him.”

“I’ve enjoyed my work with the county over the past six months,” said Mauren, who was hired in October 2005 after more than 20 years with the state Department of Natural Resources. “However, I’ve come to realize that the commitment of time and energy this position requires is taking away from quality time with my family. Also, my first love is natural resources, so I would like once again to focus my career in that direction.”

Gears said no single event precipitated the action, rather it was the diversity of his job duties that made up his mind.

The job has three main components — park management, facilities maintenance and capital improvements.

The latter task, which was the most unlike Mauren’s strength in natural resources, has been especially busy lately due to the construction of the new administration building and the repair/remodel of the Public Works Building and the Kitsap County Courthouse.

The county now has to replace two highly visible department heads. Department of Community Development director Cindy Baker resigned earlier this year and finding her replacement is on hold until the completion of an external departmental audit.

Gears said the county may recruit for both jobs in tandem.

Both positions also could face redefinition. Capital services was once part of the Department of Administrative Services for a time when that department had no director.

The function was moved over to the parks department due to its increasing importance. Now that Administrative Services has a strong director in Ben Holland, the function could be returned.

As the functions are redefined, the pay scale will also be revaluated, Gears said. Mauren earned $92,269 annually.

Both DCD and the parks department are tackling important projects. DCD is intently managing the Comprehensive Plan, while parks is developing its Open Space Plan and planning for the Kitsap County Fair and Stampede.

Gears said directors aren’t needed to manage these projects, but it would be a mistake to leave these jobs open for too long.

“There are a lot of high-quality people working in these departments,” he said. “In the short term, they can maintain operations. But in the long term there needs to be a wider view and the ability to provide guidance. In the long term, the department’s structure fails if there is no director.”

Gears said the county may revisit the list of applicants gathered during last year’s search to fill Mauren’s job.

Gears served in the parks job prior to his promotion to county administrator in March 2005.

Gears, who hired Mauren, said there was no ill feeling on either side that he knew of.

“If we had a position that took advantage of Mark’s natural resources strengths, we’d hire him back in a second,” he said.

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