Steamboat Springs Chris Wilson, the longtime director of Steamboat Springs' Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department, resigned Monday morning after working more than two decades with the city.
Wilson started as a trail coordinator and forester before becoming the head of the department.
"It's been my distinct pleasure and honor to be able to serve this community," Wilson said Monday afternoon. "Working alongside such passionate, dedicated individuals, including a great city staff, has made Steamboat Springs a better place."
Asked why he was leaving, Wilson said he couldn't discuss it.
City Manager Deb Hinsvark also declined to discuss why Wilson had resigned.
"I'm sure they are personal reasons," she said.
She said the city will conduct a national search to find a new director for one of the city's largest, and most impactful, departments.
She added that the Parks and Recreation Department is planning a party to celebrate Wilson's long tenure with the city.
In the meantime, the city plans to bring in a consultant to help run the department in Wilson's absence.
The city's 2013 budget for the Parks and Recreational Department included funding for 15 full-time staff members and 15 part-time staff members.
The department oversees highly utilized amenities that include the city's trail systems, its ice arena, recreation programs, rodeo grounds and the Howelsen Hill Ski Area.
Wilson arrived in Steamboat in 1991 to help plan and implement extensions to the Yampa River Core Trail.
"Being the trailmeister for the city of Steamboat Springs was a great place to be," he said.
More recently, Wilson was helping plan the future of Emerald Mountain Park and continuing what he called a balancing act of overseeing a department that has had its staffing reduced and hours cut in recent years.
"It's gotten harder and harder to keep the level of service as the impacts have occurred," he said.
Wilson said his department "never took phone calls" from people saying the city shouldn't offer a sport or activity. Instead, the department was hit with several calls from advocates of sports like pickelball who wanted to add more recreational opportunities.
Wilson said he enjoyed working in a city where everyone supports parks, trails, open space and recreation "at the highest levels."
Wilson said he hasn't identified his next career move yet.
"I have lots of options and opportunities," he said. "I've got lots of skills and ideas and lots of things I plan to do."
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com
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