OCEAN CITY — The town of Ocean City made a few major announcements this week, including a new director for the Recreation and Parks Department and a realignment of some of the tourism and special events-related departments.
Ocean City officials announced long-time staffer Susan Petito has been promoted to Recreation and Parks Department director, replacing Tom Shuster, who retired on April 1 after holding the position for 16 years. Following Shuster’s retirement, the town conducted a national search for his replacement before filling the position from within with Petito, who has worked for the city and the department for nearly three decades.
Petito, who joined the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department in 1986, stood out among the nearly 100 candidates for the director job, according to City Manager David Recor.
“Susan has been a dedicated employee for almost 30 years and offers direct experience with the department’s operations and facilities,” he said. “On top of an enormous amount of experience, she is dynamic, versatile and has productive working relationships with other town departments and divisions.”
As director of Recreation and Parks, Petito will manage Ocean City’s recreation programs, parks and facilities as well as satellite facilities and the town-owned Eagle’s Landing golf course. She will also oversee the development of four division budgets, totaling over $1 million, as well as administer the collection of revenue and additional operations including concessions, the Ocean Bowl Skate Park and the Ocean City Tennis Center.
Petito, a Baltimore County native and University of Delaware graduate, brings a variety of experience, knowledge and certifications from other areas in the recreation and parks field. She is an active member of the National Recreation and Park Association and the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association. She is currently serving as vice president of the Parks and Recreation Maryland Municipal League Department. In addition, she has received numerous awards and honors in the field, including the Dorothy Mullins Arts and Humanities Award from the National Recreation and Parks Association.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the Recreation and Parks Department in Ocean City,” she said this week. “We have amazing facilities, an extraordinary staff and a variety of programs for residents and visitors to enjoy. I have always been proud to be an employee of this department, and I can say I am even more thrilled to contribute to the growth and development of our recreation and parks as the director.”
Wednesday’s announcement of Petito as the new director is just one of many sweeping changes for the department thus far this year. In January, the Special Events division was moved from the Recreation and Parks Department and was realigned with the Convention Center and Tourism Department to create a synergy among the tourism-related branches within the town. With more annual events and a new Performing Arts Center, the Special Events division now works collectively with its tourism counterparts to enrich events and performances.
“We routinely review the organizational structure and responsibilities of departments in an effort to improve productivity and efficiency,” said Recor. “The retirement of the former director presented an opportunity to realign organizational resources and enhance service level delivery.”
In another significant change to the town’s departmental structure, effective this week the town’s beach patrol became part of the Emergency Services Department after being under the purview of Recreation and Parks for decades. Recor said the change more appropriately aligns the beach patrol with the town’s other emergency services departments and divisions.
“The mission of the beach patrol remains unchanged,” he said. “They will continue to act as our primary ambassadors in the summer months, but will now have the ability to collaborate and coordinate their efforts with the town’s other public safety professionals, as well as utilize additional public safety resources.”
With a new director at the helm of the Recreation and Parks Department in Petito and the organizational restructuring complete, the town of Ocean City is enthusiastic about the changes, according to the city manager.
“Ocean City has grown enormously and continues to grow each year,” said Recor. “Not only are we hosting more special and private events, but we are drawing more and more visitors to our beach. Special Events and Beach Patrol are two of our most visible and recognizable divisions and I am confident that these organizational realignments will result in collaborative working relationships and effective service delivery.”