[Photos by www.photoandgraphic.com]
WILTON - Mark Marino, a Massachusetts native, decided to move to the Saratoga Springs area a number of years ago after he and his wife realized the school systems were better here and there would be more job opportunities. Marino attended Norwich Military University with a degree in physical education and moved on to be an Officer in the Army. From 1981 until 1984 he was stationed in Watervliet, where he got a taste of the area. For 14 months Marino worked at the Capital District YMCA until his position was eliminated. From there, he decided to pursue being a physical education teacher like he had planned. For 10 years he was a substitute teacher in Waterford and also owned his own landscaping business for a number of years. These jobs combined with his military background made him the perfect candidate for the director of Gavin Park position. On July 6, the Wilton Town Board voted to approve Marino’s appointment as director of Gavin Park.
“I always wanted to be a physical education teacher and athletic director, this job is the best of both worlds,” he said.
A key element in his hiring was his career background, especially his landscaping business. He knew what the grounds should always look like and what it would mean to maintain them. He was experienced in managing people, he taught and worked with kids for many years, he is an officiate for three different sports, and he was also an athlete. He was a prime candidate.
In regards to Art Johnson, Town Supervisor, Marino exclaimed,“I am very grateful Art is my boss. He was essential in bringing me on board and I really appreciate them giving me the opportunity to do this.”
Gavin Park offers a wide variety of different programs. Tracy Kubis is the assistant recreational director, she is essential to the summer camp and summer programs. Ross McNeal helps Kubis to coordinate and execute the programs.
The main thing Marino is looking to add personally is a hiking activity, geared toward ages 14 – 18.
“I would love to see that age range get off social media and have more face to face time. I think a hiking program could provide that,” he observed.
Marino said there is not much to add to the park right now because Stephen Porto left it in such a good place after his 10 year tenure. Porto added new fields but also created the concept of Splash Park. Splash Park is a water park for kids 12 and under but most frequented by kids six and under. Sprinklers and other fun contraptions run on a 15 minute sensor, shooting out water for kids to splash around in.
“We try to provide a lot of variety for people so it doesn’t become stale or feel stagnant,” he remarked.
Campers get their fill of variety. They visit all beaches in the area, The Great Escape, Valley Cats games, and other fun activities happening daily.
Only five weeks into the job, Marino said his main goal right now is to “make sure that all the fields, courts, and nettings, along with anything else related to what people are using, are safe and well maintained.”
On a daily basis, Marino arrives at 8:50 a.m. and meets with Kim Brock, who runs the financial side, to discuss payroll and other related things. Then he takes out the golf cart and rides around to every field to make sure everything is proper and clear. He then has meetings with people and in between it all, leaves his office door open.
“I believe in an open door policy. My door is always open for anyone to come in and discuss any concerns or issues,” he expressed.
His day then wraps up at five o’clock and he heads home, excited for the next day to begin.
“In all the jobs I’ve had in my life, I really feel well-received here. I believe in the team effort and being transparent and having open communication and an open door. Everyone here does their job very well and that’s a credit to the overall organization, the town board, the parks and recreation commission, and Gavin Park as a whole. It’s just a very well run organization and it has been for years. My goal is to maintain that level in the years to come. This is a job where I really look forward to coming to work,” Marino said sincerely.
Marino is especially grateful to Maintenance Supervisor John King and his staff for all their hard work physically maintaining the grounds in a timely and organized fashion. He could not speak highly enough about his staff as a whole, from the camp counselors to the maintenance staff to the financial department.
“I want to give a lot of credit to the staff. You can’t run an organization well without having a good staff and again players like Tracy, John, and Michelle, they all do such a great job,” he said.
For more information on all that Gavin Park offers to the town of Wilton, visit www.townofwilton.com and navigate to the parks and recreation department.