2018-01-19 / Community

Cape names community service, parks director

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

CAPE ELIZABETH – The community lost a longtime public servant in November when Community Services Director Russell Packett died from cancer and while Town Manager Matt Sturgis said Packett’s death was “an unfortunate passing,” it has caused him to rethink how the department is structured.

With the town looking for Packett’s replacement and the creation of a Fort Williams Park director, Sturgis thought the best approach may be to have the park manager position duties tied into the duties of the new community services director when that individual is hired.

“When something like that happens, you find it a challenge, but you also find it as an opportunity and looking at the challenge we have as far as managing (Fort Williams) Park, I looked at this as, maybe this may be an opportunity for us to look at it from a different approach relative to the park manager position,” Sturgis told councilors at a meeting Jan. 8.

Sturgis said the idea came to him after a meeting with Public Works Director Bob Malley, Portland Head Light Museum Director Jean Gross, Facilities and Transportation Director Perry Schwarz and Kathy Raftice, who on Tuesday was named community service director after serving in an interim capacity since last summer.

“Kathy has served as the interim director since last June, and we are very excited to see her become the permanent director, beginning immediately,” Sturgis said in an announcement.

Raftice, a Cape Elizabeth native, joined community services in July 2011, after a 25-year career in insurance.

Sturgis said folding the position into the community services department makes sense because the department already has infrastructure in place for event scheduling, office space and experience with other town parks.

The idea would be to have Raftice split her focus between Fort Williams Park and the operations of the community services department.

From April to November, when use of the park is the highest, much of the focus would be on park operations while the other half of the year, November to April, more of the focus would be on community services programming.

“I know at community services they have needs that aren’t being met and we do have seniors we should be providing more programming to and other age groups, so we could fairly diversify what we provide for community services programming as well,” Sturgis said.

Raftice will take the burden of day-today park management and being the staff liaison for both the Fort Williams Parks Committee and Community Services Advisory Committee off the shoulders of Malley and take over event scheduling in the park and the management of tour bus and trolley visits and other park issues. Maintenance of the grounds would still be done by public works and the facilities department would still take care of the Officers’ Row buildings in the park.

Now that the position has been filled, Sturgis said he, Raftice and other department heads will get together to talk about the job duties of the Fort Williams Park director and how they can be absorbed into the community services department.

That, he said, is a work in progress right now.

“We are trying to navigate going forward where things should stay (in terms of department responsibilities in the park), but we want to do it in a cost effective manner, but also an effective manner,” Sturgis said at the Jan. 8 meeting.

Councilor Jamie Garvin said he wasn’t concerned with the organization of the community services department or how responsibilities would shake down as much as he was about having “boots on the ground in the park.”

“Whether those responsibilities are spread out across several different people in the park, I hope we can retain that sort of objective and concept in some way. It doesn’t concern me how the department is set up as long as that need is met,” he said.

Sturgis agreed, saying “I think that is critical.”

Chairman Jessica Sullivan said she supported Sturgis’ vision for the position, with one small tweak: a title change.

“If the title is Fort Williams Park director or director of parks and recreation, it is just a thought, it may be easier for someone to look up and figure out who that individual is and who they need to talk to rather than just title it community services director because, we have people from all over the world who want something at Fort Williams and it may be hard for them to know who is the contact that they need to reach,” she said.

Sturgis said that is something he can look into.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

Return to top