Restructure plan aims for efficiency

In an effort to make the Waconia Parks and Recreation Department stronger, more efficient and to improve and expand the department’s services, the Waconia City Council approved a department restructuring plan during its meeting on Monday, Nov. 19.
The plan affects current staffing structure of Safari Island, the Ice Arena, and the outdoor recreational programming component of the Parks and Recreation Department.
One change affects the Recreation Program Manager position, which will be eliminated and replaced with the Ice Arena / Outdoor Programmer position.
The new position will provide oversight of ice scheduling, interacting with user groups including but not limited to the WHA and school district, identifying facility needs, program ice and dry land events and programs to create additional revenue. The position will also incorporate current outdoor recreational programming activities as well.
Another change is the addition of a part-time custodian, which will allow the city to better utilize its maintenance workers, who are currently being used to clean Safari Island. The department currently employs only one part-time custodian to clean its facilities.
The department currently has three full-time on-site managers. Under the new plan, those positions will switch to one full-time and two permanent part-time positions (32-hours a week). In a similar move, the department will switch from three full-time guest services positions to two permanent part-time positions and one part-time position.
The current part-time Fitness Coordinator position will turn into the Fitness / Facility Programmer. This position will be responsible for programs related to fitness and all “dry land” events and programs for the facility including the gym spaces. It will oversee approximately 20+ part-time fitness instructors and manage/modify and develop new programs to meet the needs of the facility users while attracting new participants.
A newly created position will be the Membership / Facility Coordinator, which will consolidate a number of responsibilities currently being handled by on-site managers. The position will handle memberships, insurance issues and facility rentals, which should result in improved customer service for facility users. The position will also assist the facility manager in developing marketing ideas to further enhance opportunities for members.
In related matters, the plan calls for the current Recreation and Safari Island budgets to be combined to simplify and better reflect the increasing interaction between the two budgets.
The department restructure plan has been in the works for the past six months.
“All the work that’s gone into this, we’re looking forward to putting it into place and moving forward with it,” said Craig Sinclair, Director of Parks and Recreation, who noted that the department would initially look internally to fill the open positions.
One employee affected by the reorganization is Sarah Molnau, the Recreation Program Manager whose position is being dissolved due to the restructuring plan.
Molnau, who has been with the city for eight and a half years, was a familiar face to community members who attended events such as Music in the Park. Molnau, who worked her last events for the city this past weekend, didn’t comment publicly on the situation but in a post on Facebook, she said it had been a fun eight and a half years.
“Thank you to all of my co-workers, the Waconia Chamber of Commerce, the Carver County Sheriff’s Deputies and the Waconia Fire Department, the Waconia Park Board and of course, the wonderful residents of Waconia for helping make my work NOT feel like work,” she posted, while also thanking her husband, Jesse, for holding down the fort with their own children while she was running activities through a job she loved.
“I have seen so many people move to town, get married, have babies and watch those ‘babies’ grow up (also making me feel old!) and love being able to call so many people by name. I look forward to bumping into everyone around town and to attending special events with my family,” she added in the post.
Also during the meeting on Nov. 19, the council briefly chatted about recent discussions on moving stop signs at Main and Vine streets to Main and Maple streets. Citizens raised the issue because they are concerned about the safety of the intersection.
Although traffic studies — including one conducted this fall — have not warranted the need for a stop sign at Main and Maple, the council appears willing to consider doing something to help make the intersection safer.
One idea was to install continuous flashing yellow lights to alert drivers to possible presence of pedestrians. Another idea involved the elimination of crosswalks at the intersection, and another touched on parking restrictions that would help increase visibility at the intersection.
The council directed city staff to look into some of these ideas and research their cost (including the possibility of using Safe Routes to School funding as the intersection is close to Bayview Elementary School and feasibility. The council is planning on revisiting this discussion at its next meeting, which will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10.