Parks director heads south

CITY HALL — Community Services & Parks Director George Chapjian announced Wednesday that he will leave Glendale after seven years to head up the parks department in Long Beach.

Chapjian, who notified City Manager Jim Starbird of his departure Wednesday morning, said he would miss Glendale's "tremendous staff," but looked forward to taking on the challenges of working in the second largest city in Los Angeles County.

"They will continue to do great things. They will continue to serve the community," he said of his Glendale colleagues. "It's exciting for me to go to Long Beach. It's a bigger city, so bigger challenges, a bigger stage."

Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine operates 160 parks with 25 community centers, two major tennis centers, five municipal golf courses, the largest city-operated marina system in the nation with 3,800 boat slips and six miles of beaches, according to an announcement from the city.

"George Chapjian is a dynamic leader who can build upon our excellent programs and services and take the department to the next level," Long Beach City Manager Patrick West said in a statement. "He has a wealth of expertise in both park development and park program management and will be a huge asset to Long Beach."

Before coming to Glendale, Chapjian spent 16 years working for Pasadena as manager of Neighborhood Services and special assistant to the city manager. He holds master's degrees in social work and gerontology, and a bachelor's degree in psychology from USC.

Since joining Glendale in 2003, Chapjian has overseen the completion of 15 major capital park and facilities projects worth roughly $28.1 million.

In Glendale, Chapjian's background helped him guide the department from having a more traditional facilities-based focus to encompassing a variety of social services, especially those for youth and seniors, Starbird said.

"He has done a very nice job of leading the department in a new direction," he said.

An interim director will likely be appointed in coming weeks, Starbird said. Chapjian's last day will be Jan. 7.

FOR THE RECORD: This corrects an earlier version to make clear that Chapjian earned both degrees at USC, and that there are 160 parks in Long Beach.

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