The pool at the Dimond Park Aquatics Centers lies glassily smooth on July 23, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

The pool at the Dimond Park Aquatics Centers lies glassily smooth on July 23, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Public wades into candidate pool for city aquatics director

Candidates spoke to members of the public about their priorities and qualifications.

People Saturday afternoon were invited to meet the two candidates for the city’s vacant aquatics manager position.

Seth Cayce, currently head of Dimond Park Aquatic Center, and Terra Patterson, aquatics supervisor for the city of Astoria, Oregon, came out to answer questions and signal their interest.

The former manager, Kollin Monahan, left the position in May, said Will Muldoon, chair of the CBJ Aquatics Board. The division falls under Juneau Parks and Recreation, and has an annual budget of roughly $2.7 million, not including renovations, which fall under the capital improvement budget. The manager is responsible for the operations of the Dimond Park Aquatic Center and Augustus Brown Swimming Pool.

Seth Cayce, currently the supervisor of the Dimond Park Aquatic Center and a candidate for the position of Aquatics Manager for the City and Borough of Juneau, speaks during a meeting for the public to meet candidates on July 23, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Seth Cayce, currently the supervisor of the Dimond Park Aquatic Center and a candidate for the position of Aquatics Manager for the City and Borough of Juneau, speaks during a meeting for the public to meet candidates on July 23, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Cayce

Seth Cayce, a 16-year employee of the Aquatics division, is currently the supervisor of the aquatic center located in the Mendenhall Valley.

“Aquatics is my passion,” Cayce said. “I’ve been around these pools all my life.”

His three main priorities, if elevated from the supervisor position, were to focus on offering regular swimming lessons, deal with staffing issues and make the aquatic center a regional training hub for aquatics related certifications.

“I think the biggest thing the Juneau community wants is swim lessons,” Cayce said before the group that gathered Saturday afternoon. “We can’t do that without staff. Staffing has been a pretty big issue”

Staff retention has been a problem at the aquatics facilities for sometime, as well as at many other employers across the state.

“We’re all struggling to find staff,” Cayce said. “Trying to keep good people is difficult.”

Cayce’s proposed solution includes working with the Juneau School District to restart a program helping to train high schoolers to become lifeguards during specialized physical education classes during the school day.

“We haven’t done that for a long time,” Cacye said.”I’d like to bring that back.”

Realistic expectations for those positions are key, Cayce said.

“Not everyone makes a career out of being a lifeguard,” Cayce said. “If we can get two years out of a permanent position, that’s great.”

Cacye said that he didn’t feel quite ready to apply when the position came open four years ago, but his experience at the supervisor level since then makes him feel ready now.

“This is what I love doing,” Cayce said. “I know these facilities probably better than most.”

Terra Patterson, currently the supervisor of the Astoria, Oregon aquatics system and a candidate for the position of Aquatics Manager for the City and Borough of Juneau, speaks during a meeting for the public to meet candidates on July 23, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Terra Patterson, currently the supervisor of the Astoria, Oregon aquatics system and a candidate for the position of Aquatics Manager for the City and Borough of Juneau, speaks during a meeting for the public to meet candidates on July 23, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Patterson

Patterson has worked for the Astoria Parks and Recreation since 2002 and is looking to move up.

“I think my track record speaks for itself. I have worked for my employer for 20 years,” Patterson said. “I’m looking for more challenge, and I think I can find it here.”

While she’s worked a number of roles within Astoria’s parks and rec department, Patterson said her first love is aquatics.

“I think aquatics can offer something for everyone,” Patterson said. “I feel lucky to work in aquatics for that reason.”

Learn-to-swim programs were a big focus for her, Patterson said, especially coming from a community that spends a lot of its time on the water. “Waterproofing” kids, by teaching them both how to swim and expanded water safety practices, would be one of her priorities.

“Both of my children have lost friends to death by drowning,” Patterson said. “What’s the point of having a learn-to-swim program if it’s not benefiting the community?

Expanding that learn-to-swim program to reach more kids is a must, Patterson said. She said she was also aware of the staffing issues.

“In touring all the facilities (Friday) the one thing I heard was staffing was a challenge,” Patterson said. “It’s an issue everywhere.”

In the past, Patterson said, she’d dealt with the same issue in her facility. She’d handled it by reaching out to non-typical groups to fill gaps on the roster, such as people working atypical schedules to fill in a few shifts or as call-ins, alleviating stress on the system, Patterson said.

“Having those options can really help to reduce burnout,” Patterson said.

Patterson said she’s also familiar with budgeting for facilities.

“I do my own budget. I have a budget of about $1 million,” Patterson said. “Before COVID I was on track to meet all my benchmarks for revenue and expenses”

When will we know?

Parks and Recreation director George Schaaf said at the earliest, it’d be a couple of weeks before the board and the city had settled on a candidate and would announce it.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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