The City of Manhattan plans to interview candidates in the coming weeks for its vacant Director of Parks and Recreation position.

Director of Human Resources Tammy Galvan informed members of the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board Monday that the city has engaged with Texas-based recruiting firm SGR (Strategic Government Resource) to help source and screen candidates and help create an interview process. The job posting should be publicized before the end of the week.

“We anticipate leaving that open for applicants through February 14, at which time it will close for applicants. They will be screened and vetted through SGR and they’ll bring us a list of final candidates they think we should consider screening for interviews,” she said.

Finalists will be brought in March 6 for a day-long interview process. Some on the board have expressed interest in being part of a “selection committee.” That decision though rests with City Manager Ron Fehr. Board member Sue Maes explains why it would behoove the city to at least consider some outside support and consultation.

“It seems like with everything we’ve been through this year with the community, I think that a lot of us have a lot at stake and wanting to help the city make a good decision about that new director,” she said.

The parks and recreation director position has been vacant since Eddie Eastes retired in May. Wyatt Thompson is currently serving as director on an interim basis.

The advisory board also Monday reviewed staff’s plans for bringing facility rental fees more in line with a new cost-recovery model approved in late 2022. The board unanimously approved a resolution to send to the Manhattan City Commission that would see the fees changed from the current non-commercial and commercial categories for fees to non-peak time and peak time categories. Non-peak time would be regular business hours, weekdays from open to 5 p.m., with peak times being anytime after 5 p.m. as well as all day Saturday and Sunday.

“It costs us more during that peak time because we have to typically bring in seasonal staff to man a facility, supervise an activity, so the approach I took — the non-commercial rate, made that the peak time rate and then discounted that peak time rate for the non-peak time,” said Recreation Superintendent Chris Curtis.

Board members also discussed finding ways to better utilize some of the community facilities and generate interest in underutilized spaces within the city’s three recreation centers.

“Book clubs, community service groups, just different organizations that are needing meeting spaces. They’re groups that go out and do good things for the community, but are struggling to find places to have a wide community benefit,” said board chair Karla Hagemeister, who is also executive director of the nonprofit Flint Hills Breadbasket.

The board’s motion was amended to include a 50 percent reduction in facility fees for nonprofit organizations and will be considered at a future city commission meeting. A list of the fee schedule changes is shared below.

Draft Fees Resolution