Oregon City hires outside expert as interim parks director
Oregon City has recruited a parks expert from outside the city in appointing Don Robertson as interim community services director effective Nov. 7.
Oregon City Manager Tony Konkol, who had last month identified "communication issues" in the Community Services Department as part of his investigation into a tree-cutting scandal, selected outside of the department in hiring an interim replacement for Phil Lewis, who accepted a position with the city of Rocklin, California. Lewis' last day with Oregon City was Nov. 1.
"It is important to fill this key management position in the city," Konkol said. "Mr. Robertson will serve the city as we conduct a national recruitment for the next community services director."
Robertson has more than 30 years of experience in local agencies, having served the city of Milwaukie and the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District.
"I am honored to serve as interim community services director," Robertson said. "It will be a privilege to work with a talented team and dedicated community. I am grateful for the vision and energy City Commission provides and look forward to helping the Community Services Department transition to new leadership."
Robertson retired from leading city of Ashland parks in 2014, when he was awarded Oregon Recreation & Park Association's highest recognition for his "incentive, inspiration and demonstration of leadership," making noteworthy contributions to the public-parks movement. According to a report in the Ashland Daily Tidings, community members felt Robertson's lifetime achievement award was well-deserved.
Ashland officials have said that Robertson ran the parks department in an efficient and professional way. During his decade of leadership there, Robertson helped upgrade numerous parks, saved a senior center from closure and expanded classes offered to the community.
"One of his greatest contributions was the style of leadership he brought," Ashland parks Commissioner Stefani Seffinger told the Tidings. "He mentored many of the younger members of the parks department. He created a strong team with strong skill sets. That will be important in the transition."
Robertson's long career in Oregon parks management included controversial situations. He used some tougue-in-cheek humor when responding to opposition from Troutdale residents to closing a large gap in a 140-mile-long trail system looping around the tricounty region. Metro officials, including Robinson as the interim parks director for the regional government, said the walkway would spur healthy habits in citizens, increase land values and promote more environmental tourism.
"I have a trail in front of my house, too," Robertson said in 2017. "It's 4 feet wide, concrete and most people call it a sidewalk. But all it is is a trail."
Oregon City is planning a job posting for the community services director position, and Konkol expects to make a permanent hire in early 2020.
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