The Pecos Community Center is going through some organizational changes recently, including a new recreation coordinator, Bob Berlin.

Berlin comes to the center with 19 years of experience working for the city's Parks and Recreation Department. Most recently, he was programs manager at the Goelet A.C. Beuf Community Center in north Phoenix, the largest community center the city runs. He is replacing Cynthia Brown and managing operations at Pecos Community Center, the city's second largest center.

The change is part of a pilot set up by the city. Phoenix will be trying out three different managing models in "trial areas" to find new ways to communicate or manage community centers and parks in order to provide residents more at less cost. Previously, Brown managed Pecos Community Center's programs and operations. Now, Berlin is taking over her position and is also in charge of maintenance, all the parks in Ahwatukee, and some parks on the north side of South Mountain, he said. Brown has been asked to head another trial area where she will be managing more than one community center.

"We're looking at things differently and spending a year evaluating those," Berlin said. "It really comes out to making sure we're the most efficient, organized and productive group we can be. All three trial areas have different structures. As the year goes on we'll talk and evaluate and make some tweaks to try to decide what the future of the parks department looks like."

David Urbinato, public information officer for the city's Parks and Recreation Department, said historically maintenance functions and recreation were operated separately. This new pilot is testing where the department might have some flexibility with staffing, and is also hoping to create some cohesiveness across the department.

"If we have staff overseeing maintenance and the recreation side, and integrating those two, it's another way to make sure our operations throughout the department and the city are consistent," Urbinato said. "Staff are rotated routinely just for staff development. We move staff from center to center so that they can get to work with a different community and get to know the needs of different communities. This is really an opportunity for our recreation staff to learn about the maintenance side."

No positions were eliminated to create these pilot programs.

Berlin said while it may sound like a complicated change, and it will take some time to get used to behind the scenes, residents probably won't be seeing any changes immediately.

"That's part of what you do when you first come in is watch, and look, and see," Berlin said. "Obviously coming from a ‘super' center, which is a large community center with multiple departments and multiple functions, to another super center I know how that operates and I have some opinions on how it should operate. I have a very strong belief that you need to provide the public what the public wants and not what you're willing to give them. That takes going out and talking to them...

"Operationally there will be lots of changes, but program-wise, hopefully, the only changes people see are ones they requested and wanted from their center. It is their building and their programs, so it should be about their interests."

Berlin said something he does hope to incorporate more of soon is programs for the disabled. It's something he says citywide doesn't get enough attention.

Though it's a big change, Berlin said it's something he's excited to be a part of.

"It's a great opportunity," Berlin said. "No one in my department has the same opportunity as me right now, just like no one has the same opportunity as Cynthia. All of our areas are a little different, so professionally it provides you with a whole new set of something to be a part of and try.

"It's a great facility with a great staff. The area and the parks here have great things that you don't have in other areas. It's a lot of great opportunities."

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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