Taneytown has narrowed its search for a new director of parks and recreation in hopes of moving the department in a new direction.
According to Mayor Bradley Wantz, the city narrowed down the applicant pool from 42 to six, then one dropped out, leaving five who were expected to have interviews Friday.
The City of Taneytown announced the opening for the new position at the end of last month.
The interim director, Bob Mitchell, took on a new position with the Taneytown Police Department but is still working with Parks and Recreation as the city searches for his replacement.
“He [Mitchell] is still taking care of the Parks and Recreation things that are absolutely necessary,” Wantz said. “Of course, you’re getting into that kind of slower time of the year; there’s not nearly as much happening as to what they can do. A lot of the bigger projects that he would be working on, we’ve decided to kind of hold off for the new Parks and Recreation person to take the lead on from the beginning.”
Wantz hopes the next director of Parks and Recreation will make the position all their own.
“For the most part, we’re looking for a slightly new direction by focusing a lot on the recreation side, which I feel we’ve been lacking for a number of years,” he said. “So, really, this person is going to be able to take it and make the program their own into whatever is going to benefit the residents the most.”
County Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, took time to compliment Taneytown Parks and Recreation for its progress at the Nov. 7 commissioners’ meeting.
“On the parks and rec front, they made some incredible decisions up there where they’re redoing Memorial Park, they’re working on Bollinger Park, they mentioned the park land that we just purchased outside of Taneytown, and I want to congratulate Taneytown on the amazing things they are doing,” he said in the meeting. He referenced a 145-acre site north of Taneytown that the commissioners voted to buy for $1 million for a future parks project.
According to Mayor Wantz, Taneytown Memorial Park is going to experience the first part of an expansion “in the coming years.”
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“The dirt being moved on the back end of the park is infill from a joint city/county project, and is being used to level the area in preparation for the expansion," he said in an email. "We intend to add more sports fields and parking as our youth programs and city events have outgrown the current facilities. Memorial Park is also the home of our annual Christmas light display, which will be appearing in the coming weeks.”
A main priority that the new director will have to work on will be Bollinger Park. According to the mayor, the park is ready to break ground soon thanks to Mitchell’s work, but it will be the new director that moves it forward.
“It’s really an artifact of Bob’s Mitchell’s time as our director. It’s going to be under the new director and a lot of it’s been planned out,” Wantz said. “At this point, the planning of it has been in place for quite some time, so really it’s a matter of getting some shovels in the dirt and get through stage one of that project.”
Bollinger Park covers about 110 acres directly across Md. 194 from the new Meade’s Crossing development.
Bollinger Park follows a theme that Wantz envisions for all the parks in Taneytown.
“That’s going to be a nature park, primarily walking trails; there’s talk of the future of an observatory, not being operated by the city but a separate club, but it’s mostly going to be nature,” Wantz said. “I think one thing we want to get into and part of my vision when I became mayor was to develop purpose-driven parks; each park has a specific purpose.”
Wantz hopes to have a candidate for the director position chosen by the Dec. 9 town council meeting.