Cathy Salgado spent the last few weeks following Richard Black around Vienna.
He gave her a tour of Vienna’s parks. The two showed up together at a Monday night Town Council meeting. And he introduced her to the other staff members in the town parks and recreation department.
But last Friday Black stayed home. Thursday was his last day as director of the Vienna parks and recreation department. After 20 years he was ready for retirement. Salgado, a 16-year veteran of the parks and recreation field, took his place.
Black said he will miss seeing his fellow parks and recreation employees everyday. He will also miss the people who come in to use the Vienna Community Center, where his former office is located.
"I enjoy seeing people having a good time," Black said. "I think I really get a sense of satisfaction from it."
ONE OF BLACK’S first large projects came in the mid-1980s, when he started renovations on Vienna’s playgrounds. He installed modern equipment and drew up master plans for the future development of each park. Black said he still sees his mark when looks at Vienna’s benches, ballfields and jungle gyms.
"When I came here, most of the parks had older playground equipment," he said.
Another set of projects also come to mind when Black considers his last 20 years with the town. The community center has undergone two renovations during Black’s tenure. In 1988 he supervised an effort to redo the community center auditorium. Then in 1999 the center saw some interior upgrades, along with an exterior facelift.
"It has sort of a clocktower look," Black said.
For 10 years, Salgado was parks and recreation director in Greenbelt, Md. and, most recently, said spent four years as director of parks and recreation in the City of Falls Church. She has been through community center expansion projects during both of those positions and she toured the Vienna Community Center when Falls Church was redoing its Teen Center.
"I’ve talked on the phone with Richard a couple of times gathering information," Salgado said. "Parks and Recreation is a small field. Everyone knows just about everyone else."
Salgado went to graduate school at the University of Maryland for recreation administration. After she finished, she knew she wanted to work in a smaller-scale setting. She said Vienna is the perfect size, in the perfect location.
"WHEN YOU WORK for a larger city," Black said, "There is not as much involvement with the community."
Black said he will keep his eye on upcoming projects like the Nutley Property Yard, which is scheduled to be transformed into a parks and recreation maintenance facility; the construction of a connector trail from Northside Park to the W & OD Trail; and the restoration of the Historic Moorefield House. There has been some discussion of selling the 200-year-old Moorfield House to a private buyer, who would then handle restoration responsibilities. If the house is sold, the owner will be subject to "strict state preservation guidelines," according to Black.
"It’s kind of disappointing that we haven’t been able to bring that restoration about," he said.
Salgado has been gathering information on current projects, and said she will identify new projects as they come up.
"I enjoy working on big projects, small projects, and everything in-between," she said.
Black is not sure what he will do in his retirement, but for the time being he plans to relax.
"After 30 years, I’m taking some time off," he said. "My wife and I will do some traveling. I’ll go bicycling and play some golf — the things everyone does when they retire."