Johnston Names New Parks and Recreation Director
John Schmitz will begin with the city of Johnston in October.
Johnston city leaders believe they have found the perfect match when it comes to a new parks and recreation director.
John Schmitz, 43, was offered the job earlier this week, said City Manager Jim Sanders. Schmitz is orginally from Ankeny and still has family in the area.
Schmitz announced on Tuesday that he would be leaving his job as park and recreation director in Fremont, NE, according to the Fremont Tribune.
The hiring is pending the normal employment procedures including a physical and drug test, but Schmitz is expected to begin work in Johnston around Oct. 8, Sanders said.
On Monday, the Johnston City Council is expected to pass a resolution to designate Schmitz as the director and establish a salary.
The position came down to two candidates, Schmitz and Nicholas Schenck, the director of parks and recreation in Adel.
Both men spoke on Sept. 5 at an open house for a select group of citizens, mostly those who work on city boards including the Tree Board, Park Board, Senior Citizens Advisory Board, as well as the mayor, city council and other city department heads.
According to the Des Moines Register, Schmitz began his career with the Story County Conservation. He also worked for the YMCA Camp in Boone and as executive director with the Chicago YMCA, running a camp in Michigan.
Schmitz said Johnston's combination of neighborhoods and regional parks was unique for a community, the Register reported.
"We had great participation from our community, particularly our boards, that helped in reviewing the candidates and it really helped with the process," Sanders said. "It shows the community is really interested in getting a park director that will help the park department look toward the future."
Sanders said the feedback from the participants at the open house thought the city had two very good candidates.
"When we went through the feedback, even though it was balanced how people perceived and what they they though were good qualities of the candidates," Sanders said. "There was just more interstate in some of the experience and background that John had that he would bring to our community."
Sanders cited Schmitz's experience with fundraising, grant writing and his background with plants and trees as benefits for Johnston.
The city received 47 applications and interviewed six before narrowing the field to Schenck and Schmitz.
Schmitz will replace Ron Ward as parks director. Ward left in July to take a job with the City of Des Moines.