11 Questions for Rick Gould
Director of Parks, Rec and Community Service
June, 2007 - Issue #32
Rick Gould
Rick Gould
With 17 city parks spread over more than 250 acres, an active arts community and a wide variety of community events, the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department is one of the busiest (and we've heard, the most fun) at city hall. Rick Gould is the director and he oversees everything involving recreation in the City of Santa Clarita.

The purpose of Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department is to develop and implement programs that encourage healthy lifestyles and celebrate the community's diversity. The department plans and administrates the acquisition, construction and maintenance of parks, open space and trails. It provides a wide-range of recreational, social and cultural activities for youth, adults and families throughout the City of Santa Clarita. There is an appointed five-member Parks and Recreation Commission who advises the city council. It's up to Gould to make sure all these activities run smoothly.

1. How long have you been the director of Parks and Rec?

Six years.

2. Your website says your department encourages healthy lifestyles. That is something you truly believe in, isn't it Rick?

Absolutely. I try to practice that every day. I try to swim at the Aquatics Center every day. I'd rather swim than eat.

3. You were a lifeguard.

Correct. I started as an ocean lifeguard in Santa Cruz. It was my summer job while in college.

4. The city council recently voted to charge individuals living outside the city limits a little more for recreational services. Can you tell us about that?

[The fees are] for services provided in city-constructed facilities. Our youth pattern shows a significant number of youth [that sign up for activities who live] in unincorporated areas of Santa Clarita (Stevenson Ranch/Westridge/Castaic/ValVerde/Agua Dulce). The council was cognoscente of the need to balance their residents' costs to those from the unincorporated areas who don't pay taxes to pay for the programs the city funds.

5. Any problems with the new fee schedule?

No. It's been working fairly well.

6. What is the most popular youth sport activity?

Youth basketball. It goes up to junior-high-school age.

7. Last year, the city tried to pass an Open Space initiative. It failed. I understand that you will be trying to pass another initiative again soon.

Yes. There is a citizen group that has formed to try again, but a little bit differently this time. [The initiative] will focus more on open space and undeveloped land - the acquisition of undeveloped land.

8. Any new parks coming our way?

We're currently under construction of the Todd Longshore Park on Whites Canyon (Longshore was a longstanding member of the Parks and Recreation Commission who died last year). The park will probably open in late fall. It's above Canyon High School [where Longshore's sons played football]. It is poetic in many respects.

9. Community Services is a big component of your department. Can you tell me what that involves?

It's one of the broadest sections in the department. From anti-gang task to graffiti abatement, youth and family services to the community center in Newhall to emergency preparedness.

10. Tell us a little about the Arts Alliance and what the city is doing to promote arts in the community.

We have a section called Arts in Events. We continue to support public art. The most recent was the trashcan art and the California Bear project. We sold six so far. It's a piece of public art. Golden Valley High School, whose mascot is the grizzly bear, has one. I think you'll start to see more bears pop up. We'll soon have murals in downtown Newhall. We continue to look for projects to support public art throughout the city.

11. The Amgen Tour was a big success for the city. Will it come back through town next year?

We hope so. We go through a bidding process every year. We don't know what we'll get and probably won't know till May or June at the earliest. It could be a different route. It changes every year much like the Tour de France. One thing we do know. We have recent tremendous feedback not only from the local community, but also the bicycle community.

12. We seem to have a very well-rounded recreational community. Is there any one thing you are dying to bring to the Santa Clarita Valley?

A dog park. I believe in them. As a dog owner - one that loves to run and one that doesn't, it's something that is a long time in coming. It's probably the number one thing people request. Dogs are welcome in every park in Santa Clarita - on-leash. This would be an off-leash park. Most dog owners are pretty responsible and they know what their dogs are like. The other thing would be to expand our programs to the special needs community.
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