Friday, Nov. 02, 2012
Peculiar hires first parks & rec director
Musteen makes move from Raymore to Peculiar
By Bethany Bashioum
The City of Peculiar is wanting to get in the game of helping improve the quality of life for their residents.
With the recommendation of Peculiar’s Park Board, the city’s Board of Aldermen recently authorized the city’s budget for the hiring of the community’s first ever rarks and recreation manager.
City Administrator Brad Ratliff announced Oct. 25 that Raymore recreation coordinator Nathan Musteen, 36, was selected for the position.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to bring recreation programs to the residents of Peculiar, first and foremost, and take their current park system to the next level,” Musteen said. “Every town wants a level of quality of life, and parks and recreation is a huge factor in that.”
The city received 25 applications for the position.
Musteen earned a degree in parks and recreation from Oklahoma State University in 2000, and has been employed by Raymore for the last 10 years.
Musteen’s early days in Raymore will be similar to the new role in Peculiar.
“When I started, we were a very small department, very much like this is. I started when we had an excellent park system and mostly a maintenance crew, and no recreation programming. I’ve been there from the beginning, building and developing what Raymore has,” Musteen said. “The opportunity to come here and do it again is a challenge, but it’s also exciting because I know what it can be.”
The City of Peculiar currently has about 160 acres of parks and no one fully focused to the development of recreational activities throughout the community.
“I call it the three-legged stool as to why people move into the community - good schools, feeling safe, and quality of life issues, which I think parks and recreation can play a big part in, and the Board of Alderman and mayor see lacking in the community,” Ratliff said.
Ratliff said that since from 2000 to 2010, population of Peculiar increased by 77 percent.
“The median age for residents in Peculiar from the 2010 census is 32 years old,” Ratliff said. “That would lead you to believe that there are a lot of young families in the community, which means young kids, and the need for recreational activities.”
Parks have been maintained over the years by a volunteer park advisory board, coordination of the Public Works Department, and serviced by privatized maintenance staff.
With the establishment of the new position, the hope is that the city’s ballfield will be occupied with children lined up and ready to play baseball and softball, possibly by spring 2013.
“The short term goal is I want baseball and softball for these kids as soon as we can get it going,” he said. “The idea is allowing these people, when they come home from work, to stay in town to go play t-ball or go play soccer, so they don’t have to drive to another city to do that.”
Musteen said the factor will be determining how much work it is going to take to get the city’s ball field facilities safe to play on.
“Our long term goal that I think will always be the goal, is continuing to build a department. That includes more facilities, staff, upgrades, and equipment to do in house projects. I would like see in a few short years is more than just a one man show,” Musteen said.
Originally from Arkansas, Musteen resides in Greenwood with his wife and three children. His wife grew up in Raymore, and has extended family throughout Cass County.
Since as long as he could remember, Musteen has always had an interest for parks and recreation.
His first job in high school, 20 years ago, at the age of 16, Musteen was hired by the Corps of Engineers at Beaver Lake in Rogers, Ark., to be a part of the summer maintenance staff.
After college, Musteen worked for two years at the Boys and Girls Club in Independence, and then came to Raymore in 2002.
“I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else,” said Musteen, about working in parking and recreation.
Musteen said the opportunity to develop a parks and recreation department from ground up was intriguing about the position.
“The idea of being of able to do that, and from a Raymore standpoint, our sister city, is very attractive because I know a lot of people, I don’t really have to relocate, and the networking between the other cities are already established,” he said. “You feel like that you’ve got a jumpstart on getting things going here because you don’t have to build all that and it’s established. They’re colleagues and good friends, so they don’t want to see you fail, either, so they’re going to step up and help you get the ball rolling.”
Ratliff added that Musteen’s preexisiting parks and recreation networking relationships throughout Cass County were attractive in his selection.
“Nathan meets all the educational requirements of the position and exceeds in the experience. He is well known and well-liked in our community as well as in Raymore,” Ratliff said. “As in my tenure, I have expressed many times the need on communities working together for the good of all our residents. Mr. Musteen’s experience and connections in both communities will yield great results in our communities working together for the quality of life issues our residents expect and desire.”
Musteen’s first day with Peculiar is Tuesday, Nov. 13. His last day in Raymore is Friday, Nov. 2.
“The best word that comes to mind is bittersweet,” Musteen said. “You hate leaving somewhere that’s been home for so long, but knowing that I’m just coming down the road and that there are so many folks that live here that come there anyway, you don’t feel like you’re moving away.”