New Parks Director Ready To Settle Into Payson


Rick Manchester, the Payson Parks and Recreation director, has been in Payson for a little more than a week. He was hired by the Payson Town Council to replace Bill Schwind, who resigned to take a similar position in Glendale.

Manchester, who moved to Payson from Two Rivers, Wis., said he is in the process of getting to know the community.


Rick Manchester moved to Payson from Two Rivers, Wis. to take over the Payson Parks and Recreation position left vacant by Bill Schwind.

He said not much will change in how the town's parks and recreation department operates.

"Only one thing has changed in parks and recreation, and that is me (being hired)," he said.

Manchester's goal is to have full control of the parks and recreation department in three to six months to implement things that will improve Payson.

He is relying on his staff, especially his management team, to help him get accustomed to the new position, and stressed it is a team effort.

"I am only one member of a team," he said. "As a member of the team, I know we can accomplish anything."

The five employees he will rely upon most are Recreation Coordinator Mary McMullen, Recreation Specialist Charlene Hunt, Community Development Specialist Jerry Owens, Recreation Coordinator Holly Aungst and Parks Supervisor Nelson Beck.

One of the first things he will oversee is the installation of new playground equipment, with some climbing elements for elementary school age children, at Rumsey Park.

The condition of the tennis courts at Rumsey, he said, is also an immediate issue that will be addressed.

Manchester's midrange plan is developing a new parks and recreation master plan, as the one the town is using is about 10 years old.

He said the master plan will involve looking at the inventory to see what the town currently has and what the town needs in the future.

"It is kind of like a road map to the future," he said.

In the interview process, Manchester had to propose a mock master plan and present it to the council, town employees and the public in 20 minutes.

"It was an interview exercise to see what my thought processes are," he said.

Manchester said he is still unpacking his boxes and is looking forward to experiencing Payson as a resident, not just as the new director of the parks and recreation department.

The climate in Payson, he said, is different from Two Rivers, but added that both towns have the same concept of small town values and recreational opportunities.

The parks and recreation department has eight full-time employees and hundreds of seasonal employees.

In Two Rivers, Manchester wore several hats as that town's parks and recreation director, which he added is not that uncommon in small towns.

Payson, he said, is focused on quality of life, which he added was one of the reasons he was enticed to apply for the position.

When asked what was the most difficult thing about leaving Two Rivers, where he worked for seven years, he said the numerous friends he made in his time there.

He said the decision to move to Arizona was something that has been on his radar screen for some time, and added it is relatively close to his hometown of Grand Junction, Colo.

He and his wife, Becca, have three children -- Micaela, 10, Abby, 5, and Colton, 3.

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