PLEASANT HILL -- After 16 years on the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District board, Cecile Shepard resigned abruptly last month, reportedly to devote more time to her podiatry practice.

Shepard announced she was stepping down during the Nov. 28 board meeting and then walked out, according to Bob Berggren, recreation district general manager. She submitted her one-sentence resignation in an email two days later, he added.

Shepard did not return calls seeking comment.

The board has 60 days to call for a special election or appoint someone to finish the two years left on Shepard's term, which expires at the end of 2014.

"I've been general manager many years, and 100 percent of the time they've just appointed someone unless someone resigned just before the election," Berggren said.

Shepard's departure comes at a busy time for the district, which is overseeing construction of a new community center and upgrades at Pleasant Oaks Park. The district's new teen center opened in October and the grand opening of the new senior center is Jan. 5. Funds for the projects come from the $28 million bond voters approved in 2009.

Board Chairman Bobby Glover said Shepard indicated that her workload was picking up and she didn't believe she would be able to devote adequate time to the district.

"Having served for a long period of time on the board, she brought a lot of historical perspective that will be missed," Glover said. "She was always able to go back and give a reference point as to why we may have done something in the past and why we may want to do something different. Especially to me, as a new board member, that was a great perspective to have."

Shepard was appointed to the board in 1996 and won re-election in 2010, the first time the recreation district had held an election since 2000. Shepard clashed frequently with Berggren, district staff and the rest of the board. During the summer, she left a closed session board meeting concerning the bids for the new community center and didn't attend the next two meetings when the board discussed the project.

Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.