The Ambrose Recreation & Park District has hired a new general manager.

Doug Long, a 59-year-old Richmond native who now lives in Benicia, was the park district board's top choice for the position after an extensive search and selection process that lasted several months and drew 18 candidates following the resignation in May of former general manager Tarry Smith.

The process involved two interviewing boards made up of local government and park and recreational professionals from surrounding areas and Bay Point community members. Long was selected by board members from among two finalists.

The park district includes seven parks and a community center in Bay Point and Ambrose Park in Pittsburg.

Long has had a varied career working with parks going back to his first job as a recreation leader for the city of San Pablo while in high school. In March, Long retired as the director of San Carlos' park and recreation department, a job he held for four years.

Before that he was the community services director for San Anselmo for four years and the assistant general manager for the Greater Vallejo Recreation District for four years.

"The cool thing is that his background is not just in parks and recreation, but he has a background in special districts. Special district (experience) is quite a big thing for us, because that's what we are," board President Steve Hoagland said.


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Long started in his new job on Dec. 16 after the park district's five-member board of directors voted 4-to-1 to approve a three-year contract for the job that pays $90,000 a year.

Board director Lee Mason cast the dissenting vote.

"It was about the process. It was not anything against him," said Mason, who added he objected to using a contract to hire Long instead of hiring him as a regular employee.

"I think all five of us agree he was the best choice (who) will take us down the path we need to be going," Hoagland said.

Long said when he left as head San Carlos' park and recreation department, his plan was not to completely retire. "My plan was to retire from municipal government, come back home, and do something else," he said.

He said the general director's job piqued his interest because of the financial challenges the district is facing at a time when infrastructure improvements are needed. The district's budget has run a deficit for the last four years due and is heading for a fifth deficit for the current fiscal year, a staff report said.

"That's what I like doing best. Going to an agency, making an assessment, and providing recommendations," Long said.

He replaces interim general manager John De Lorenzo, who stepped in to run things after the departure of Smith, who held the job for six years. During Lorenzo's time at the district, board members gave the go-ahead to repair and re-open Ambrose Park's outdoor lap pool in response to local residents wanting the pool re-opened. It was closed in 2009 for safety reasons.

"This is a pool with a long-standing history in the community. The community has expressed a desire to have the pool opened," Long said.

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.

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