Covington seeking Parks & Rec manager

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Covington Parks & Rec Manager Rosie Santos waves at the camera before masking up at an activities drop-off event during the early stages of the pandemic. Santos is leaving the City for a new career opportunity.

Santos leaving City for new role across the river 

COVINGTON, Ky. - Covington is looking for a new Parks & Recreation manager as the person who now holds that title, Rosie Santos, heads across the Ohio River to become conservation and parks manager for Hamilton County Great Parks.
 
Applications are due by Aug. 7 for the position (see HERE), and Covington Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith said the City is looking to fill it quickly.
 
“This is a great opportunity waiting for someone,” Smith said. “Under Rosie’s leadership, Parks & Rec has a lot going on, and we’re looking to attract a person who will continue where she leaves off and do so under the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
 
Santos started working at the City as a part-time “recreation specialist” in 2014 and - as the City reorganized - her responsibilities and job title expanded. She said she was proud of “that process of rebuilding.”
 
“With the recession and its aftermath, Parks & Rec was down the bare minimum, but now we’re a team of four that has greatly rejuvenated the excitement and momentum,” she said.
 
Among the ongoing accomplishments:
  • A parks redevelopment schedule that has already seen substantial upgrades to Father Hanses Park in Lewisburg and Peaselburg Park, with the reconstruction of Barb Cook Park in Latonia and the planning for Goebel Park underway now.
  • A soon-to-be-completed long-term master plan.
  • And significant efforts to increase public engagement, giving residents a louder voice in the modernization of programs and spaces. 
“While I’m excited about my new career opportunity, my leaving is bittersweet,” Santos said. “I’m extremely proud of the work the Covington team has done and my part in it. I love Covington and I love Covington parks.”
 
She said her successor needs to be somebody with diverse skills and strong affection for Covington as a unique place.
 
“Some people see ‘parks and recreation’ and think, ‘that’s fun and I could do that,’ ” she said. “But while it is fun, there’s way more to it.”
 
The Parks & Rec manager needs to have skills related to budgeting, planning, marketing, customer service, writing policies and procedures, administration, fund-raising, and managing public spaces, people, and large capital projects, Santos said.
 
She said an affinity for Covington is mandatory.
 
“This is a community that values authenticity and inclusion, has a diverse constituency, and features an array of recreation amenities,” she said. “Whoever takes this job needs to recognize that Covington is a special place in the Greater Cincinnati landscape and genuinely must want to be here. This isn’t just a job.”
 
Mayor Joe Meyer announced Santos’ departure at the Tuesday meeting of the Covington Board of Commissioners.

The new job is “a real step up for Rosie and a new opportunity for her, so we want to thank her for her work for the city and congratulate her on being able to move up in her profession in an area that is sort of in her sweet spot,” Meyer told commissioners. “Rosie’s background is in environmental education, and she’ll have a much greater opportunity to use those skills with the great parks of Hamilton County ... so Rosie, thanks for all your great work over the past several years.”
 
About Covington Parks & Rec
Covington has nearly 1,000 acres of parkland and green space spread out over 40 different parks, playgrounds and facilities, including about 700 acres that make up the expansive Devou Park and its golf course and biking trails.
 
The City directly manages about 30 facilities on nearly 200 acres, including the Licking River Greenway & Trails, the Riverfront Commons trail under construction, the 54-acre Bill Cappel Sports Complex (with its baseball diamonds and soccer fields), two full-size swimming pools, a water park, and an array of smaller playgrounds.
 
Historically, the City’s programs and events have centered on providing affordable fun for families with a wide array of activities, such as the annual fishing derby for kids, aquatic aerobics for seniors, Easter Egg hunts, basketball skills clinics, yoga in public settings, one-day swim events for dogs, arts and crafts at parks and playgrounds, Tai Chi classes for adults, and outdoor movies.

Among Parks & Rec’s accomplishments under Santos, far left, is a new neighborhood parks redevelopment schedule whose successes have included Peaselburg Park, whose ribbon-cutting is shown here.

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