This in response to James Dartt’s recent letter to the editor “Recreation Center and Senior Center Issues Still Not Resolved.”
In my estimation, Mr. Dartt’s issues were addressed some time ago. In 2015, I commissioned an independent study (an operational analysis) of the Athletics and Leisure Services Department, which oversees both the Recreation and Senior Center functions. The result was a change in management. I appointed Nick Montoya as the new department head. Nick has worked for the City for over twenty years and has done a terrific job managing his department, which is also responsible for our park system, athletic fields, the Sunshine Academy, the cemeteries, and facility rentals.
Mr. Dartt has suggested that we change our organizational structure to make the Senior Center an independent department. The current set up is that Griseyda Balalcazar, the Senior Center Supervisor, runs the day-to-day operations of the Senior Center, as she has for years, and reports to the Athletics and Leisure Services Director, who in turn reports to me.
I recently asked Mr. Montoya to spend more of his time in the development and management of athletic fields. As a result, starting next month, Ms. Balalcazar will report directly to my assistant, Aaron Baker. There will be no change to Senior Center operations. In my experience (thirty four years in municipal management), most senior centers report to department head-level managers, and are not stand-alone departments. Such is the case with us. It works just fine and I see no reason to change.
Regarding the Senior Center Supervisor, I’d like to set the record straight on a related issue. Ms. Balalcazar recently decided to stop teaching several very popular recreational classes at the Senior Center. An untrue rumor circulated that she was forced by her department director to quit teaching. I was contacted by approximately twenty of her students; many were upset with City management for what they believed to be our decision to end her classes. Again, the decision to resign from teaching was hers. Mr. Dartt’s wife was one of her students, and was one of the people I heard from on this issue. I corresponded with her and explained the situation.
As an organization, we believe in, and practice, transparency. There are no unresolved issues relating to the City’s Recreation and Senior Centers to my knowledge. While it’s not possible to please everyone we serve, we have a dedicated staff committed to serving the needs of our seniors, and others, in our community. They do great work.
As a reminder, I have a long-standing open door policy, and I hold frequent community forums, where residents are encouraged to discuss any City-related matters or concerns. Although Mr. and Mrs. Dartt neither reside in Mesquite nor Nevada, they are most welcome to use our facilities and to offer their suggestions regarding the services the City provides.