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Director of Parks and Recreation

Location:  City of Durango, CO Download:  City of Durango, CO - Director of Parks and Rec - Brochure

About Durango, Colorado

Nestled deep within the San Juan Mountains, Durango, Colorado is an authentic mountain town full of old west character, outdoor recreation, and natural wonders off the beaten path.  Durango covers 17.10 square miles at an altitude of 6,512 feet and has a growing population of nearly 19,000. 

Durango is a friendly town with a tight knit, highly educated community. It is the home Fort Lewis College, a four-year, public liberal arts college, and is known worldwide for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a heritage railway that travels from Durango to the historic mining town of Silverton, Colorado via steam-powered trains. 

With its combination of historic architecture, entertainment, and shopping, Durango boasts galleries, boutiques, restaurants, bars, and a robust downtown business district. Unique dining establishments consist of locally owned restaurants. 

Outdoor activities are a natural part of the lifestyle in Durango including miles of world-class skiing, hiking, rafting, horseback riding, and mountain biking trails. Durango offers national parks, archeological sites, and gold mines to explore. The Purgatory Ski Resort, located 25 miles north of downtown Durango, has 105 trails, 11 lifts, a vertical drop of over 2,000 feet, and more than 1,600 acres of skiable terrain. 


Durango, Colorado is a home rule city with a council-manager form of government. The Durango City Council serves as its legislative and policy-making authority. Under this form of government, the eligible electors of Durango elect five residents to serve a four-year term as members of the City Council to represent them and serve as the legislative and policy-making authority for the City. The council elects a mayor from among its members to a one-year term of office. 

The Position

The Parks and Recreation Director has leadership of the Parks and Recreation Department to ensure high quality services that exceed the expectations of the community.  The P&R Director oversees the management of parks, recreation, cemetery, trails, forestry, open space, Animas River, Lake Nighthorse, Recreation Center, Mason Center, Durango Gymnastics and Chapman Hill, and ensures sound fiscal management of capital construction projects and department operations. The P&R Director provides highly responsible and complex administrative support to, Advisory Boards,  Assistant City Manager and the City Manager, works independently with general guidance from the Assistant City Manager, City Manager or designee to ensure coordination of objectives and priorities of the City Manager and Council, supervises staff, and works under the guidelines of various federal and state governmental regulations as well as under the City’s policies, procedures, municipal code, ordinances and various other regulations. 

The Director will lead over 40 full-time and 350 part-time and seasonal employees providing oversight to an annual operating budget of $$9.6 million and capital funds of $9.7 million. 

Department Overview

Durango Parks and Recreation is dedicated to serving the community by providing a diverse range of programs, public spaces, and natural areas that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities.  Recognized with the esteemed “Gold Medal Award” from the National Recreation and Park Association, the department holds national from NRPA’s Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). 

The department offers a wide array of services including the development and maintenance of City Parks, Open Space, Trails, Forestry, Cemetery, Animas River, Lake Nighthorse, Community Special Events, Durango Community Recreation Center, Mason Center, Chapman Hill, Durango Gymnastics, as well as youth and adult recreation programs. 

The Department takes care of approximately 5,300 acres of parks and open space, actively managing around 11,000 trees in the urban forest, and overseeing 96 miles of natural surface trails and 16 miles of hard surface trails. Additionally, the Department operates three indoor recreation facilities spanning over 116,850 sq. ft. These facilities feature a comprehensive recreation center with aquatics areas, including lap and leisure pools, racquetball courts, an indoor track, aerobics studio, gymnasium, fitness area with free weights, sectorized weight equipment and cardiovascular equipment, a climbing wall, community meeting rooms, childcare services, and offices. The Department also manages a seasonal ice rink and ski hill. Ultimately, the Department's goal is to foster an active Durango community by providing the necessary support and resources. 

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  •      Assume full management responsibility for all Parks and Recreation Department services and activities including parks, recreation, cemetery, trails, open space, Animas River, Lake Nighthorse, Recreation Center, Mason Center and Chapman Hill; recommend and administer policies and procedures.
  •      Manage the development and implementation of Parks and Recreation Department goals, objectives, policies, priorities and capital projects for each assigned service area.
  •      Establish, within City policy, appropriate service and staffing levels; monitor and evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery methods and procedures; allocate resources accordingly.
  •      Plan, direct and coordinate, through subordinate level managers, the Parks and Recreation Department's work plan; assign projects and programmatic areas of responsibility; review and evaluate work methods and procedures; meet with management staff to identify and resolve problems.
  •      Assess and monitor workload, administrative and support systems, and internal reporting relationships; identify opportunities for improvement; direct and implement changes.
  •      Select, train, motivate and evaluate Parks and Recreation Department personnel; provide or coordinate staff training; work with employees to set goals and correct deficiencies; implement discipline and termination procedures.
  •      Prepare and manage the Parks & Recreation budget.  Oversee and participate in  administering of the Parks and Recreation Department budget; approve the forecast of funds needed for staffing, equipment, materials, supplies and capital improvements; approve expenditures and implement budgetary adjustments as appropriate and necessary.
  •      Explain, justify and promote Parks and Recreation Department programs, policies, and activities; negotiate and resolve sensitive and controversial issues.
  •      Represent the Parks and Recreation Department to other City departments, elected officials and outside agencies; coordinate Parks and Recreation Department activities with those of other departments and outside agencies and organizations.
  •      Provide staff assistance to the City Manager and City Council; participate on a variety of boards, commissions and committees; prepare and present staff reports and other necessary correspondence.
  •      Provide staff support to assigned boards and commissions.
  •      Attend and participate in professional group meetings; stay abreast of new trends and innovations in the field of parks and recreation.
  •      Respond to and resolve difficult and sensitive citizen inquiries and complaints
  •      Represent the Parks and Recreation Department to other City departments, elected officials and outside agencies; coordinate Parks & Recreation activities with those of other departments and outside agencies and organizations.
  •      Identify and respond to community and City Council issues, concerns and needs. 

The Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate will have extensive experience in parks and recreation operations, in addition to the principles and practices of maintenance, open space management and trails planning including funding and acquisition, park construction and use of public buildings and park facilities in a comprehensive park and recreation program.

The ideal candidate will be a creative, community engaged leader with the ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with City Management, City Council, department leaders, public/private partnerships, and within the community. The ideal candidate should be an outstanding leader of employees who provides guidance and professional support to staff, inspiring them to achieve excellence through continuous improvement and professional development. Effective communication along with strong collaboration and team building skills will be necessary for this individual to be successful; advanced written and oral communication skills are imperative.  Creating an inclusive and team-oriented work environment that allows for diversity of thought, viewpoints, and experiences.  

Education and Experience

Qualified applicants will have an Equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with major course work in recreation management, business administration, public administration, physical education or a closely related field.  Master degree is preferred.  The ideal candidate will have six (6) years of increasingly responsible experience in parks and recreation including three (3) years of administrative and supervisory responsibility. 


The City of Durango is offering a competitive salary hiring range of $135,000 to $150,000 commensurate with experience along with a comprehensive benefits package. Relocation assistance will be available for the successful out of area candidate.

How to Apply

Interested applicants should forward a cover letter and resume to:
Reference: DURANGODPR 

Affion Public
PO Box 794
Hershey, PA 17033

*The deadline to receive resumes is October 23, 2023* 

The City of Durango is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer. 



Posted: 06/29/2023