SEASIDE — There's still time to apply for the position of general manager of the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District.

The closing date for submitting applications is Feb. 29.

So far, 18 people have applied, said Mary Blake, who will retire as general manager in June, when she turns 62.

Applicants must have a master's degree in park and recreation administration or a related field. They also must have five years' "progressively responsible" park and recreation experience, including public relations, maintenance, landscaping, financial and budgetary management, or a combination of equivalent education, training and experience.

But more is involved in being a general manager than achieving a list of skills and experiences, Blake said.

"I think now, with the way the environment is changing in public service, an administrator and leader needs to understand the importance of collaboration and networking in a larger community," she said.

"We have done heroic acts," she said about the district, which helped to shelter and feed residents during the "Great Coastal Gale" in 2007.

The district also has collaborated with city officials in building the city library, developing Broadway Park, improving other city parks, collaborating on community events and sharing resources with other local organizations, Blake said.

By being involved in local activities and helping to complete larger city projects, the district has become the "soul of the city," Blake said.

Applicants will be asked how they see themselves as leaders, she said. "They will be asked, ‘What do you call upon in the decision-making process?'" Blake added.

Although the district was in turmoil and was distrusted by the community when she arrived as general manager 28 years ago, Blake believes those days are gone.

"I think we've built such a solid position in the community that we're part of everything - whether it's emergency preparation for a tsunami or learning how to swim," she said. "We try to contribute on every level we can to improve a person's life."

Blake's successor will earn $60,000 to $72,000 as a starting wage, depending on experience.

Blake, who worked in the city of Portland's park and recreation department for 10 years before coming to Seaside, earns $88,000.

Applications should be mailed to Special Districts Association of Oregon, P.O. Box 12613, Salem, OR 97309-0613.

More information about the application process is available at the park and recreation district site www.sunsetempire.com

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