May 25—Johnstown is soon going to once again have a recreation director.
Tony Penna Jr. will take over the job on a part-time basis, working 20 to 25 hours per week, officially beginning on June 1. His duties will include overseeing operations at Sargent's Stadium at the Point, Roxbury Park and playgrounds.
There has not been a recreation director since the end of 2009 due largely to financial reasons, as the city has been in Pennsylvania's Act 47 program for distressed municipalities for almost three decades. The city recently sold its sewer collection system — with the money being used for pensions and capital improvements, which has subsequently freed up funds for other areas.
The recreation position will be part of the Public Works Department.
"It's been vacant for a long time," Jared Campagna, the city's public works director, said. "It's really been a need for the city. We need someone to focus on the recreation department for sure."
Penna previously spent nine years as head football coach and athletic director at Greater Johnstown High School. He is the current Conemaugh Township Area High School football coach and owner of Fielderz Choice, a sports training facility in the city's West End, and Main Street Hobby downtown.
"I like to lean towards my experience as an athletic director and event planning," Penna said. "I think that's the biggest thing. I kind of now consider myself the athletic director for the city.
"It's something I definitely have a passion for and something I've missed since I haven't been one for the last two years. I want to take the same energy that I used as an athletic director and create meaningful events of all natures at our different facilities."
Penna said his "goal is to get the Point Stadium and the other facilities in the area to a point where they break even at first and then hopefully beyond that."
"I just want to work with the team and create opportunities for people of all ages to enjoy our facilities," Penna said.
Penna plans to continue supporting activities that already take place at the city sites.
But he also wants to bring in new events, such as a high school football game of the week at the Point, to the venues that he thinks are "used, but maybe a little bit underused."
"I want to see activities coming in there that we're a part of, as opposed to just being all facilities that we rent," Penna said. "And, also, I think a huge part of this is going to be partnering up with all the different existing organizations and teams to be able to create these events as well, too.
"We're excited about working together with these groups. This is not anything that I'm looking to spearhead just by myself. I want to work together with these different groups, and knock it out of the park, and make sure that we're truly serving the needs of the community."