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Park & Rec Director Resigns

KENT—The Park & Rec Commission last week reluctantly accepted to the resignation of Director Jared Kuczenski, effective at the end of the year.

Kuczenski, who has worked with Kent for two years, has taken another job but leaves behind a legacy of progress for the town department. “In two years, he did about five year’s work,” said Park & Rec Chairman Michael Perkins. 

Kuczenski thanked everyone for “sharing in the energy and enthusiasm” of the past two years, but alluded to circumstances that were “untenable.”

Commission member Abigail Smith Hanby asked that an exit interview be conducted so the commission can effectively support a new director. She advocated for changing the job description for the next director and much discussion was devoted to how to do this.

First Selectman Jean Speck said that the First Selectmen is responsible for creating job descriptions with input from interested parties. The actual hiring of the director falls to the Board of Selectmen, but she suggested that Park & Rec board appoint a subcommittee to determine candidates. She offered to talk with Kuczenski to learn what he would suggest for the job description.

She said the Board of Selectmen will formally accept Kuczenski’s resignation Monday, Nov. 20, during a special transitional meeting between the current Board of Selectmen and the newly elected officials.

Under the current job description, the director is the secretary for the commission. “That has been a problem from the get-go,” Kuczenski said. “You can’t keep saying the director, the director, the director. Something has to give—when do you say, ‘Enough already?’ When does the director focus on higher-level issues than listening to a two-hour recording of a meeting he just attended and writing minutes?”

He admitted to being “a little intense” in his comments but continued, “Whoever comes in should truly be the director. Taking minutes is a waste of salary. I’m making an impassioned plea for the next person.”

Naomi Joseph, a new member of the commission, agreed that “going forward, we should keep it professional—the director is the director.”

She and Hanby both expressed concern about keeping up the momentum that Kuczenski created, but Kuczenski said he would be available to help with the transition if needed.

“There were some things and some people I didn’t see eye-to-eye with,” he said, “but I care about the community.”

In preparation for the winter season, the commission okayed the continuation of several successful programs, including adult yoga, adult basketball, aqua aerobics, learn to swim and spring baseball.

He reported that the smaller programs always fill up and that bigger programs, such as baseball, attract 60 to 75 young people, which compares favorably to larger towns. “That is a thing we should be proud of,” he said. “If a program has a maximum, we are hitting the max; when it doesn’t have a maximum, we get 70 kids. The ratio is unbelievable. It exceeds what I do in Patterson. We’re setting a new standard.”

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  1. Robert Mellis

    November 17, 2023 at 1:05 pm

    It’s my hope that the town has learned a useful lesson from Jared’s resignation. We had a diamond and we’ve allowed it to slip between our fingers. Learn the lesson about how managers should be managed. Let us respect the energy he brought to this job. He showed time and again that he’s a self-starter. And let’s learn how to work with his successor.

    • susan mcwhinnie

      November 18, 2023 at 7:14 am

      I agree. From my perspective Jared brought energy, enthusiasm, competence, and experience. The response from the community was overwhelmingly positive. We did lose a diamond.

  2. Cathy Sebetic

    November 19, 2023 at 5:30 pm

    That is a major loss for the town! Especially the kids. What a wonderful job he did! Good luck replacing him. Perhaps those he did not see eye to eye with should step up and see if they can do better.

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