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Post Ralph White, James River Park System Still Seeks Leader



With Ralph White out of the picture, who's minding the James River Park System while its trails, rocks and rapids fill with sun-seeking Richmonders?

Before White, the longtime manager and park steward, retired Jan. 1, he gave the city almost a full year's notice he was leaving the post. He said he wanted to give the city parks department enough time to find the perfect replacement before the busy season.

The city advertised White's job in mid-December. But no one's been hired. That leaves Nathan Burrell, who worked under White for years, serving double-duty as acting director and trails manager as the park's peak season gets under way.

When does the department hope to have a new director installed? That's difficult to say. Parks department spokeswoman Christy Everson didn't respond to several requests for information. On March 12, she declined a request for an interview about plans for the new position, saying the department hoped to have interviews completed in two weeks, though others involved in the process report that interviews are ongoing.

Some advocacy organizations involved with the park are concerned. One is Chris Hull, the president of the James River Outdoor Coalition. "As we get into the very popular summer season, it's just getting more and more important," he says. "I would have liked to have seen it happen sooner — it's taken longer than it should."

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