The Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission has selected Michael A. Black as the new director of the department. 

Black will replace Don Robertson, who retired in June after a decade in the position. Robertson has served as interim director since his retirement. 

"We're the caretakers of a big portion of the city," Robertson said. "We cover nearly 800 acres of land. We also provide recreational opportunities to several thousand residents, and we make sure that the community is safe."

Parks Commissioner Stefani Seffinger said it was important for the candidate to be a good fit with the community as a whole.

"Ashland is a community that cares about its parks," Seffinger said. "We felt that, in addition to his parks experience, this was something that excited him and that he will have the dedication we were looking for."

Seffinger said the commissioners liked Black's leadership style.

"He has great communication skills and is a cooperative leader," she said. "We wanted someone who will be hands-on and a good mentor to our staff."

Black was one of 75 applicants for the position. While the parks commissioners made the final decision, early interviews also included City Councilor Pam Marsh and recruiter Wendi Brown of W. Brown Consulting Partners, who assisted in a national search for candidates.

Black comes to Ashland from Grants Pass, where he served as the parks and community development director for the past four years. He has also served on the Rogue River Greenway Foundation, the Josephine Parks Foundation and the Oregon City Planning Directors' Association.

Prior to his time in Grants Pass, Black directed the Community and Economic Development Department in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, for five years. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Utah, where he studied urban planning and design.

In his new role, Black will oversee 40 staff members and a $15.9 million biennial budget.

Since moving to Grants Pass, Black has had his eye on Ashland, he said.

"When we first moved to the valley, we checked out the sights," Black said Thursday. "Of course, those sights included Ashland and Lithia Park. I thought immediately that this would be a great place to live and work. Ashland is the crown jewel of Southern Oregon and widely recognized as the cultural center of Southern Oregon."

The Parks and Recreation Commission plans to appoint Black to the position during a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 18, in the parks office, 340 S. Pioneer St., while the City Council is set to approve his employment agreement during their meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, in the City Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

Both meetings are open to the public. Black is set to officially take the reins Wednesday, Aug. 20.