Oakdale Park will soon be getting a new person in charge.

Manager Gary Ivy appeared before the council after a special executive session this week to request a leave of absence. Ivy plans to leave April 1. 

Ivy said it was understood when he was hired in 2010 that he "wasn't going to be here forever." Ivy said he wants to spend more time with his family traveling and enjoying retirement.

But he said he also wants to leave Oakdale Park in good hands. 

"I want to make sure a plan is in place so there is a continuous flow of management over Oakdale Park so the park is being taken care of," Ivy told the council.

Over the past six months Ivy has been looking at different people as potential managers, including some of the work campers.

He said his recommendation is the council hire city employee Wayland Adams, who has been working at the park for several years and knows its operations. The only disadvantage is that Adams has not held a management position before, Ivy added. 

"Wayland has a very sharp mind," Ivy said. "I took him through the operations and the financial tracking. He picked up on them very, very quickly. His knowledge of operations is very good. He knows everything about the park he need to know. He is quick and he has the drive to succeed."

Ivy proposed that Adams be named assistant park manager and said that he would be willing to come back in July when the budget is being development, in November when the budget is being voted on and in January.

Ivy said he would not expect any pay for returning to assist. He has amassed a great deal of comp time, which concerned some council members. 

Some council members also had some concerns about whether Adams had enough marketing experience to attract events to Oakdale Park. 

Councilman Dennis Moore said he wanted to commend Ivy for all the work accomplished at Oakdale Park. The pool and most of the cabins and cottages have been renovated, RV pads and infrastructure brought up to standards and improved and a new entrance is about to begin construction.

"I want to build on what Gary has done, but we may need to have someone with marketing experience," Moore said. "This is a critical time for Oakdale Park with all the money we've put into it."

Mayor Jean King said she thought the assistant park manager position should be salaried so the city doesn't get caught paying overtime. 

Council member Sue Oldenburg said she would like to see a detailed job description to see if someone can do the job in a 40-hour work week. 

Ivy said that the park's seasonal traffic means that in the summer a manager works seven days a week, 14 hours a day. During the winter, the number of visitors drops and the number of hours worked declines.

"It's a position that's going to be higher in hours in the summer," he said.

Council member Sandra Ramsay also praised Ivy's work at the park, especially his attentiveness to finances. 

"It proves you can bring in someone from the outside," she said. 

But from a business standpoint, Ramsay said she didn't think it was "financially prudent" to grant a nine-month leave of absence. 

"Anything can happen with a new council coming in" after the May election, she pointed out. "So we don't know what's going to happen."

She suggested that the city go ahead and pay Ivy for his comp time. Then he comes back for several days, the city should pay him for those days, Ramsay said. 

"I like the idea of him (Ivy) coming back with his expertise to do things for us," Councilman Johnny Martin added.

Mayor King suggested putting the Oakdale Park management change on the council's March 12 meeting agenda. Meanwhile, Ivy said he would put together an assistant park manager job description. 

Then the council thanked Ivy for all he had done at Oakdale and gave him a round of applause.