Given a choice, Doug Long would have been a point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers or a Tour de France champion.
Instead, he's spent the past four years serving as the San Carlos Parks and Recreation Director, a role he will relinquish in February. The would-be attorney announced his retirement last month.
"Serving as San Carlos' Parks and Recreation Director for the past for years has been everything I hoped it would be," Long said, "challenging and a whole lot of fun."
Challenging may be an understatement. He came in at a time when the city was at a crossroads in services. They would have to be cut or creatively redefined.
Long helped the city navigate through troublesome financial times with a series of cost-cutting measures that helped preserve basic services.
Instead of seeing his department shrink, he led its expansion. Burton Park is currently undergoing a facelift, thanks in large part to Long's efforts.
The current dog walking area at Burton Park came about because Long was able to work effectively with residents to develop such a program. It's considered one of the most successful efforts of its kind.
"I am indebted to the Parks and Recreation and Arts and Culture Commission for their support and guidance," Long said. "And to the Parks and Recreation Foundation for their enthusiasm and dedication to continually improving parks and recreation in our community."
When Measure U failed, which would have funded basic city services, Long restructured his department, which included contracting for park maintenance service, as well as becoming the recreation provider for the city of Half Moon Bay, where he serves as Recreation Director.
"This offered me new and challenging experiences and we've been successful with implementing each service model," Long said. "I'm also proud of being able to increase the level of service for the City San Carlos despite having reduced staffing levels."
Some of his additions were adding an adult soccer program, creating the Night of Holiday Lights and Goblin Walk, and expanding many new programs for children.
In addition, Long helped with the development of the Highlands Park athletic field, the first synthetic field of its kind in North America installed in a municipal park and the home of the San Carlos Little League program.
He also supervised the addition of new trails in Eaton and Big Canyon Parks and the renovation of Laureola Park.
"A lot has happened in four years, but none of it could have been accomplished without the brave, bold, and dynamic leadership provided by our City Council and City Manager, both Mark Weiss and Jeff Maltbie," said Long.
"The wonderful people I work with have made this one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. The team of department heads is second to none, and my faithful, hardworking, and devoted parks and recreation employees are absolutely the best I've ever had the pleasure of knowing and working with."
Long graduated from John F. Kennedy High in Richmond and then attended Cal State Stanislaus. He also went to Cal State East Bay (then known as Hayward State) for graduate school.
His first life ambition was to become an attorney, a notion sparked by television lawyers.
"I soon learned that my field was very far ranging and involves many disciplines," he said.
"Not what is portrayed on the TV show."
He found out about the opening in San Carlos when a colleague recommended it to him.
The Senior Golf Tour will have to wait. Long has five kids and five grandchildren with whom he plans to spend time.
"I will dabble as a voice actor," Long said. "Few people know I was the voice for Raleys Supermarket in Texas and Idaho for a time in the early 90's."
Many people appreciate his time and accomplishments in San Carlos.
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