SPRINGFIELD TWP.: The township’s new parks and recreation director learned to love open spaces and public land as a boy growing up in northwest Canton.
Douglas Foltz, 49, who spent his formative years playing ball at Welch Park in Canton, carried that appreciation into adulthood. He is the North Canton Ward 1 councilman, a position he has held for 18 years, each year chairing the Parks and Recreation Committee.
“I’ve served as council president and on other committees, but I have always chaired the Parks and Recreation Committee. It just seemed like a natural fit,” Foltz said Thursday.
Foltz is the former assistant director of parks for the city of Canton, where he worked from 1984 to 2012 overseeing daily and long-range operations.
He will earn $47,500 as Springfield’s director, overseeing its five-park system, the Senior/Community Center and other duties. Foltz is eligible to receive a performance bonus of $2,500 in January 2014.
He and his wife, Georgann, have three children. Foltz earned a degree in public policy management from the University of Akron.
Trustee Bruce Killian said Thursday that Foltz’s extensive experience earned him the job.
“We had a lot of good people apply, but he had the best background,” Killian said.
Foltz, who began work Monday, said he is excited about the new job and is eager to meet community members. He is interested in talking to people involved in community affairs and learning what improvements they want to see in programs and facilities in the township’s parks system.
“I love to go out in the parks and talk to people. What new ideas might they advance? This is a clean slate for me here to help advance programs” he said.
After four days on the job, Foltz said he had visited each township park. He believes his new role, which will include finding funding resources, will be filled with new challenges.
“I am interested in creating new programming and seeing what we can do with our existing parks” he said.
Township trustees expanded the role of the director to include developing and administering special events for the entire community.
Formerly, the Senior/Community Center had a separate director, and the township’s service department was responsible for the parks system.
Trustee Dean Young said that while the competition for the job was “very strong,” he believes trustees chose well.
“I know that Mr. Foltz will make our parks’ program bloom,” he said.
One of the last projects Foltz undertook in Canton was to refurbish the old Welch Park where he played as a boy.
Baseball fields, a basketball court, restrooms and a shelter built in 1935 as a public works project were reconstructed and upgraded using city crews for a fraction of the cost of replacing just one of the buildings by an outside contractor.
“I’m here to make new memories,’’ Foltz said.
‘‘I can draw off my experiences and I have no regrets.”
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.