For nearly 17 years, Rick Gould has served as Santa Clarita’s director of Recreation, Community Services, Arts and Open Space, growing opportunities for community members to spend their free time.
On Monday, the city announced Gould’s retirement from his position.
“Rick has played an important role in cultivating recreation, parks and community amenities for the city of Santa Clarita,” City Manager Ken Striplin said in a statement to The Signal. “We thank him for his service to the city.”
Since 2001, Gould has overseen the development of the Aquatic Center, Activity Center, dozens of parks and Phase 2 and 3 of Central Park, Striplin cited.
“It’s sort of a whirlwind,” Gould told The Signal Tuesday.
Every year Gould has been with the city, he said he’s had a new favorite project.
“It’s been an amazing opportunity to do a lot of things,” he said.
The combined enthusiasm of his staff and the community has served as Gould’s motivation.
“You need that passion,” Gould said. “When you know the community values it, it makes it easier and more enjoyable to get stuff done.”
Santa Clarita’s parks have grown from 10 to 34 while Gould has been with the city and active land has grown from 90 acres to 350 acres.
When he first took on his role with the city, it was Gould’s ultimate goal to fill in any gaps in parks and facilities, he said in an SCV 101 segment on SCVTV on August 24.
“Let’s try to begin to address that gap in park coverage, facility coverage and try grow us into the facilities that not only we needed but the community wanted,” Gould said at the time.
Also, Gould said one of his passions has been to pursue more open space, which he said is vital for Santa Clarita.
“We think, over time, we’ll eventually have quite a bit of the land that surrounds the city in public ownership and protected from development and available to the public for recreation for generations to come,” Gould said.
The city maintains 10,000 acres of open space and looks after 40,000 to 50,000 of state-owned open space surrounding the city such as the Newhall Pass Open Space, all of which has been under Gould’s careful eye.
With both the Parks and Recreation Master Plan and the Park Development Master Plan, Gould has seen parks development come to fruition in his role.
Engagement in the arts has grown under Gould’s leadership through the Arts Master Plan, including the Thursdays at Newhall events, the Senses block party, the Revved Up car show and various events at The Main.
Gould has also facilitated recreational events in the city, including the Amgen Tour of California and Wings for Life.
Yearly recreational opportunities, such as the 2,500-child basketball league and the 350,000-visitor summer aquatics program are under Gould’s department.
The new Canyon Country Community Center slated to go into the northeast corner of Sierra Highway and Soledad Canyon Road has been under Gould’s watch as well.
When he retires, Gould said he looks forward to swimming and playing golf.