Out of Alaska: Parks hires director

As of Jan. 3, the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District will have a new director leading its efforts to bring more park land and more outdoor fun to islanders.

Offered the opportunity two weeks ago to fill the district’s vacated director’s position is Lisa Deane. Deane takes the place of Suzette Hart, who took a year-long maternity leave starting in December 2003 and decided not to return to her position this fall. Filling the position in the interim has been former Island County Parks director Lee McFarland.

Deane comes to Whidbey as a true islander herself. For the past seven years, she has worked as the parks and recreation manager for the City of Unalaska Parks and Recreation department at Dutch Harbor. Unalaska and Dutch Harbor are part of a remote island in Alaska that 4,800 full-time residents call home. The population of the island swells to about 12,000 during fishing season.

She is expected to be officially hired by the South Whidbey parks district on Dec. 15, when parks commissioners will vote to approve an employment contract with Deane.

Speaking from Bellevue this week, Deane, an Othello native, said she is looking forward to moving to South Whidbey. Coming out of a parks district in which she managed a 35,000-square-foot indoor recreation facility and activities at up to seven outdoor parks, Deane said she is ready to take on the lead role in the South Whidbey district.

“Parks and recreation is such a positive industry because everyone can benefit from it,” she said.

Having worked in a parks district in Alaska that had a $1.6 million annual budget and extensive property holdings, Deane is coming to a much smaller parks organization, one that has a budget about one-third the size to which she is accustomed and that has a single park location. At the same time, she moves into her first parks directorship with the South Whidbey district. In that job, she will oversee all the operations of the district, most of which take place between the South Whidbey Community Park on Maxwelton Road, and adjacent South Whidbey Sports Complex on Langley Road.

Deane comes to the job with a degree in tourism management from Central Washington University, and with additional experience in commercial property acquisition and management.

She officialy starts work at the start of the new year.

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