After nearly three years as the Sunset Empire Park & Recreation District general manager, Justin Cutler has resigned, effective March 18, to take a position in Colorado.
Cutler officially submitted his letter of resignation at the district board’s meeting Wednesday.
“This is a bittersweet move for me and my family,” Cutler said. “I am proud of what our team and board have accomplished the last three years, from grants to growth of programs and a focus on facility updates. My family and I will miss our friends and colleagues.”
The board members accepted the resignation, expressing their regret that Cutler is leaving.
“We’ll miss you. You know we’ll miss you,” board member Carol O’Donovan said.
Board Chairman Michael Hinton said Cutler’s recently completed evaluation identified the work he’s done as “highly commendable.”
“I am proud of what the district has been able to accomplish under Cutler’s leadership,” he said. “He has proved himself a valuable member of our community, and we will miss him and his family.”
The board voted to use the Special Districts Association of Oregon for support and guidance in the recruiting and replacement process. The board will pay the association about $1,000 for help with accepting and prescreening applications, doing reference checks and other tasks on behalf of the board. The board also approved small changes to the job description and compensation packet.
The board will accept applications for the position — now to be titled executive director — through March 16. The board then will interview candidates, accept finalists, conduct subsequent interviews and negotiate a contract with the goal of filling the position no later than June 1.
Cutler said his decision to resign was “purely professional,” as opportunities for new and different career challenges don’t come often.
In late March, Cutler will start as the recreation division manager for the city of Westminster’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Libraries. In that position, he will oversee an indoor soccer facility, four community centers, hundreds of employees and other services and facilities.
“The appeal for me is that there isn’t an opportunity like this in Oregon,” he said.
He was not seeking a new job but was invited to apply and decided to do so because he felt, regardless of the outcome, “I wasn’t losing anything,” he said.
While under Cutler, who started as general manager June 2012, the district has seen changes in structure, atmosphere and personnel. During his tenure, a press release states, the district received a $280,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation to expand after-school programs for middle school students, renovated the pool lobby, completed a long-term vision plan and conducted a facility audit to plan for capital improvements for the next 10 years. Cutler said one of the best impacts he had on the district was the development of the staff.
“We have a great team of people who are doing the best for Seaside and the park district,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing what they’ve accomplished.”
He’s confident their resilience will make the transition go smoothly. He also will make himself available to the staff during the transition period.
“I want this community to be successful,” he said.
He recommended IT and Marketing Manager Darren Gooch to serve as interim general manager, a decision the board will make at the next board meeting in March.
The position will be posted on the district’s website at www.sunsetempire.com and questions can be directed to Cutler at 503-738-3311, ext. 103.