Red Bank Little Leaguers pose with their new parks and rec director Memone Paden Crystian. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
The Memone Paden Crystian era has begun in Red Bank’s Parks & Rec Department.
The borough resident and mother of three was named Recreation Director on Monday night, four months after the Menna administration decided, without explanation, not to reappoint longtime director Bob Evans.
Memone, who serves as president of Lunch Break‘s Board of Trustees, had been an alternate member of the Recreation Committee since January. She told redbankgreen that for the last couple years she’d been trying to get onto the committee.
Paden Crystian got to work first thing Tuesday morning, and by midday was in seasoned form, fielding phone calls and rustling through paperwork strewn across her desk.
“It’s a lot of information gathering,” she said of her first day.
There’s a bit more coming, too.
She’s stepping into a position that, in the interim, was kept warm by John Hird, a highly regarded recreation director from Rumson, after Evans was shown the door last December in a firing that has yet to be explained.
His shoes weren’t so small, either. Evans was lauded for tamping down a somewhat chaotic and disorderly department, plus expanding its programs and cultivating outside funding sources.
Paden Crystian also finds herself hurled into the position just as recreation season is about to kick into high gear. This is her first gig as rec director, although she earned a degree from Howard University in therapeutic recreation and has 15 years experience in recreation and event planning.
Add in budget cuts, and you could say these things tend to rack the nerves.
“No pressure,” she said. “I feel grateful that I have someone like John (Hird) to follow. He’s set up a nice blueprint for me to follow.
“I’m ready. I’m excited,” she added.
Paden Crystian understands that with the borough’s fiscal problems, accomplishing her goals is going to be a harder task. She argues that fun doesn’t cost much, especially with a spirited community.
“Our budget is a huge hurdle. We’re going to need quality volunteers,” she said. “From my experience with Lunch Break, I know we have an unbelievable community and one that pulls together.”
According to Red Bank’s 2010 budget proposal, Paden Crystian will earn a salary of $65,000, down from $73,529 proposed in a draft ordinance last December.
Soft-spoken and always flashing a smile, Paden Crystian said she’s determined to accomplish two goals in the job: bring the community together, and provide quality (educational when she can) programs to not only the children in the borough, but the seniors, high school kids, single moms and so on.
Mostly, though, it’s about the kids, she says.
“Youth is too important. It’s recreation. It makes the difference in the lives of many,” she said. “I want to make sure it’s quality for my children and the children of Red Bank.”
She says she’s open to any comments and ideas. Her email isn’t set up yet, but check back with the borough website soon to get it. Meantime you can call the rec department at 732.530.2782.