Thursday, June 22, 2000

New parks chief named

Carden, who oversaw fountain revamping, is 13-year city employee

By Kevin Z. Smith
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Willie Carden looks out over Mirror Lke from the gazebo in Eden Park.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        The man who directed the restoration of the Tyler Davidson Fountain has been asked to bring that restorative flair to the city's 5,000-acre park system.

        Willie F. Carden Jr., a 13-year city employee, will become director of Cincinnati parks July 5. He is now manager of the city's Facility Management section, which oversees more than 80 city buildings, including City Hall and police and fire stations.

        “It is rare in this world when you have a vision and a dream to improve the place you live and are given an opportunity to pursue it. That is why I decided to take on the job,” Mr. Carden said. “I have a vision of our park system, and it is one of great pride for our city and its people.”

        Mr. Carden said his plans are to bring regional recognition to the city's park system, elevating its status to greater prominence, perhaps similar to that of a noted theme park.

        “Don't laugh, but I want our parks to be like Disney World. I want them to be as safe as Disney World, as clean, and I want the parks to be a constant source of pride and excitement for families and residents of the city and region, just like Disney World,” he said.

  The scope of the Cincinnati parks system:
  • 60 neighborhood parks.
  • 5,000 acres of park space.
  • 30 nature preserves.
  • Five nature education centers.
  • 1,000 miles of city street tree and shrub plantings.
  • $10 million annual operating budget.
        Roger W. Ach II, a park board commissioner, said the board's search committee had been looking for a replacement since Jack Wilson left the position in August 1999. Mr. Ach said Mr. Carden's management of the eight-month, $2.2 million fountain renovation project impressed the commissioners.

        “If you look at Willie, you will see that he has a long history of doing great things for the city and managing projects and keeping them within budget,” Mr. Ach said.”

        Mr. Carden said he developed an appreciation of Cincinnati's regional appeal when working with the fountain project. That same regional philosophy should be applied to the park system, he said.

        “Let me tell you what I discov ered when restoring that fountain. We were not talking about a city icon, but one that is regional. This was a project just not of special interest to the city and the Tristate, but to the Midwest,” Mr. Carden said.

        “If Cincinnati is to become the tourism mecca we want following the completion of Fort Washington Way and the riverfront development, then we need to provide these families with quality park services. We want people to think of Cincinnati parks from great distances.”

        Mr. Carden said he's not criti cal of the parks and their services, but his vision is to move them to a new level of service and comfort.

        “Improvement should always drive us,” he said.

        Before joining the Department of General Services in 1997, Mr. Carden was assistant manager of Riverfront Stadium (now Cinergy Field) for two years and manager for 15 months.

        He graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in finance/ economics.

        Mr. Carden's current supervisor, Kevin Shepard, called him “a rising star in city services. He has tremendous energy, a terrific way of working with people and great management systems skills.”

        Mr. Shepard credited Mr. Carden with establishing an aggressive building management system that allows for timely restoration and maintenance of city property.

        Steven Schuckman, acting parks director, said he will meet with Mr. Carden to review the park system's master plan.


Council to OK Nordstrom
PULFER: Clean out your desk, Mr. Shirey
UC approves garage plans
Ohio, Kentucky can't cut gasoline sales tax
Passers-by help nab suspect in rape attack
Driver gets top penalty for death
Man arrested in clerk's beating
- New parks chief named
Piketon reels from news of plant closure
Uranium plant shutting down
Mason's water source still low
SAMPLES: Race fans give columnist an earful
Report: Ohio 20th in per-pupil spending
KNIPPENBERG: Kaplans mark 50th amid 400 friends
French Park offers a wooded wonderland
KIESEWETTER: WCPO seeks HDTV e-mail addresses
Pig Parade: Monte(sow)ri Pig in a (Peace) Blanket
'Salome' draws out soprano's stamina
Who should be cast away?
Cops to add substation
Council to pitch a tent
Court weighs in on harassment
Erlanger library plans to almost double in size
For local sources, go to the ultimate source: Richardson
Fort Wright appoints fire chief
Kentucky Digest
Local Digest
Lot size an issue in home plan
Man killed, officer hurt in shootout
Man pleads guilty in slaying, attempted rape
Neighbors build garden
Pension hike gets political
Plan to restrict water use in droughts OK'd
Queen City's moments to shine reflected in book
Residency proposal debated
Runner's efforts give girl funeral
Students choose old school
Teller charged in county theft
Theater finds friend - again - in restorer
Young ones also get letter grades