By Jamie Jensen
On February 26, the Rye Town Park Commission announced the hiring of Laurence Vargas as the new park director. The hiring comes after many years of concern about the day-to-day management of Rye Town Park and the adjacent Oakland Beach. The position of park director is seasonal and requires a unique blend of program planning, operations, and people skills. Vargas was selected from a pool of twelve candidates who made it through the first screening, and one of two who was interviewed by the entire Commission.
Mr. Vargas received a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Management from the State University of New Jersey. His extensive background includes stints as a camp counselor, camp director, community relations coordinator, park manager, and athletic league manager. He has worked with the New York Police League, The New York City Parks Department, and the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation. Vargas will supervise maintenance, security, parking, the cashier, and lifeguard staff at the park.
The paper got a chance to catch up with Vargas by phone. Having recently moved from New York to White Plains, he “has fallen in love with Westchester” and is thrilled with the opportunity to work summers in such a beautiful setting. A self-described people person, he looks forward to getting to know the patrons of the park and underscored his desire to run the park with an “open door policy.”
Reflecting on the hire, City Councilwoman Emily Hurd said, “Laurence’s energy, enthusiasm, and professional experience made him the best candidate.” Mayor Josh Cohn elaborated on this very point. “His work at The Randall’s Island Sports Foundation, uniting multiple communities all of which were interested in using the park facilities, made his experience stand out among the candidates.”
Rye Town Park serves four communities, Rye Brook, Rye Neck, Port Chester, and the City of Rye, and is governed by six commissioners, including the three mayors and the Town Supervisor. Mayor Cohn and Councilwoman Hurd represent the City of Rye on the Commission.
Vargas officially joined the staff March 1. The park’s full beach season begins in May and ends mid-September.