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Santa Rosa hires new parks and recreation director

Santa Rosa has hired a new parks and recreation director from El Paso, Texas, to replace Marc Richardson, who resigned in December.

Nanette Smejkal was selected following a nationwide search because of the experience she gained over a 25-year career managing parks and recreations departments with a diverse array of programs and facilities, City Manager Kathy Millison said.

"Her skills and experience in long- and short-term strategic planning, fund development, succession planning and staff development, community engagement, and budget and financial analysis will be important for leadership of the department," Millison said in a statement. "We are fortunate to have her join our team."

Smejkal, starts July 1. She will make the top of the salary range for the post, $153,960, plus about $40,000 in benefits.

She was most recently the director of parks and recreation for the City of El Paso, a post she has held since 2007. The west Texas city on the Rio Grande has a population of about 650,000.

Prior to that she was the director of parks, recreation and community services for the City of Reno, which has a population of about 225,000.

"I have dedicated my career to providing communities and our customers with innovative and accountable parks and recreation services and look forward to the challenge of continuing that tradition for the City of Santa Rosa," Smejkal said in a statement. "I have toured the community and was excited to learn about the robust services and facilities offered by the city."

Smejkal did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

Her accomplishments include seeking voter approval for a bond to build and rehabilitate parks and recreation facilities; acquiring land for open space preservation and parks through public and private partnerships; retrofitting aging parks with play structures and furnishings; and developing comprehensive trail systems, Millison said.

Smejkal will inherit a department facing several challenges. Its previous top two officials, Richardson and Rich Hovden, retired after an investigation showed they had for years accepted free golf and other benefits from the operator of the Bennett Valley Golf Club.

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