News

New Rec & Parks Head Prepares for Next Challenge

p1000984-1Falls Church’s new Recreation and Parks director, Danny Schlitt, entered the position on April 2. Since then he has faced no shortage of challenges, from taking part in the formation of Falls Church City’s budget to handling the aftermath of a small fire in the recreation center’s gym. This Monday, Schlitt will face another great task: putting on the City’s Memorial Day celebration at the helm of his organization.

p1000984-1Falls Church’s new Recreation and Parks director, Danny Schlitt, entered the position on April 2. Since then he has faced no shortage of challenges, from taking part in the formation of Falls Church City’s budget to handling the aftermath of a small fire in the recreation center’s gym. This Monday, Schlitt will face another great task: putting on the City’s Memorial Day celebration at the helm of his organization.

Schlitt faces the duty of directing the City’s Recreation and Parks division in much the same way he faces handling the upcoming Memorial Day festivities: With optimism and confidence, calling upon his more than 20 years of experience working with the division.

“I’ve run the gamut; I’m well equipped,” Schlitt said. “I’ll be a little anxious that morning, but if I didn’t know that I’ve done this 21 times already and it will work, then I shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.”

Schlitt said that his predecessor, Howard Herman, who retired in April after working for 40 years for Recreation and Parks, left the division in “a good position to continue to succeed.” But he admits that the retirement of such a long-serving employee means a great loss of institutional knowledge.

The division also lost Schlitt’s former position, deputy director of Recreation and Parks, because of budget cuts and a reorganization of City employees and their responsibilities, bringing the number of full-time professional staff members down in the division to six. With the reorganization, though, Schlitt will not take on Herman’s old role as general manager of the City’s Community Services department, and now all City directors will be answering directly to the city manager.
“Having to do a lot more with a lot less is always a challenge,” Schlitt said, but he added that because of the economic troubles facing the City, the division is undertaking fewer projects, which “lightens the load.”

“The transfer has been easier than I expected,” Schlitt said. “Howard set everything up nicely.” There have, however, been a few “awkward” moments. Laughingly, he admitted to the strangeness of moving into his former boss’ office, as well as signing his time sheets, as Herman is currently a part-time employee of the City helping to run its Saturday morning farmers’ market.

Schlitt has been working with the Recreation and Parks department for nearly 21 years. Born in Vero Beach, Florida, he was involved in civic-sponsored recreation activities, and later became a teen supervisor at a local recreation facility.

“I knew pretty early on in life what I wanted to do,” Schlitt said, adding that taking part in sports programs helped to spur his interest in the recreation field.
In January 1990, he accompanied his then soon-to-be wife, a native Arlingtonian, in a move back to the area. He began working part time in June 1990 as an evening and weekend supervisor. He accepted a full-time position a few months later, in September 1990, as a youth and adult sports supervisor.

He married in 1993, and the couple now lives in the City with their two children, who attend City schools and are active in City recreation programs.
“We’re pretty entrenched here,” Schlitt said. “We did it because we really like the people in the community.”

He held a program supervisor position, and then the senior program supervisor position up to 2007, at which point he was promoted to deputy director, where he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the recreation facilities and staff. Though he cannot say for certain what the future will hold for his career, he may join the legacy of long-serving Recreation and Parks directors that precedes him.

As Memorial Day approaches, Schlitt and his staff are working hard to put the finishing touches on the day’s activities, including the much-anticipated parade. It is a process which takes months of planning on the part of Senior Program Supervisor of Special Events Jenny Paxton, as well as increased effort from the rest of the Recreation and Parks team as the date comes nearer.

“It’s always amazing to me how this place transforms to a full-fledged city festival,” Schlitt said. “It’s just a small-town, homey event.”

As for the future of Recreation and Parks, Schlitt said that his focus will be on improving parks and programming for Falls Church City’s residents.

“Some of our parks are showing signs of a lack of time and funding put into them,” Schlitt said, and he hopes that this “sophisticated little city” will have some similarly sophisticated programs and facilities.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*