Steamboat hires new parks supervisor

Aaron Stafford
Courtesy photo

Aaron Stafford began his parks management career at age 16. His first job as a teenager was working for the Arvada Parks Department doing seasonal landscape work.

While attending college at Metro State University in Denver, where he majored in psychology and human development, Stafford picked up side jobs working at golf courses and on other landscaping projects.

Though he originally thought he wanted to work in counseling, Stafford quickly gravitated toward outdoor recreation.

Stafford was recently hired as the city of Steamboat Springs’ new parks supervisor. He succeeds Ernie Jenkins, who retired from the post after 27 years. In his new role, Stafford is tasked with overseeing maintenance, operations and construction at each of the city’s parks.

“People mostly think of parks as just green spaces with a playground, but we have some pretty unique parks here in Steamboat,” said Emily Hines, parks and recreation marketing and special events coordinator. “We have a ski area and a rodeo ground that are part of city parks.”

Before coming to Steamboat, Stafford worked for a private company doing water mitigation and irrigation technology, then for the city of Westminster overseeing their maintenance, greenhouse and horticulture programs.

Stafford said he is excited about relocating to Steamboat after seeing the city and learning more about the work culture among city employees.

“It has a lot to do with the location, and I really think that Steamboat is just a special place,” Stafford said.

Stafford attributed the positive work environment to the high standards the city sets for its parks.

“You really have to understand our green infrastructure, our parks, our grass, our irrigation system,” Stafford said. “The friendliness here is no joke.”

As for specific goals he wants to achieve, Stafford said he hopes to improve the city’s irrigation process to preserve water and money, particularly as much of Routt County is currently under extreme drought conditions.

“I want to turn us into an example as a community with proper water use,” Stafford said. “Irrigation has come such a long way in the last 10 years with smart and predictable irrigation, that we could be saving a great amount of water, which is great for our environment and for our budget.”

Stafford said he knows parks and open spaces are crucial to life in Steamboat.

“I’m looking to try to bring an innovative approach to landscape and municipal maintenance and really try to bring this awesome community to the next level and set a standard,” Stafford said. “I want other outside communities to look at us and say, ‘Wow, look what they did.'”

Hines said Stafford is a good addition to the parks team because of his clear understanding of Steamboat and the emphasis the city places on outdoor spaces.

“Whether you’re a local who’s going out to participate in recreation or have a family picnic, or you’re a visitor coming to town to participate in an event or just enjoy our park system, there really are so many amazing things,” Hines said. “He is that steward.”

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