George Chapjian, Director of Parks, Recreation and Marine (PRM) announced his resignation from the City of Long Beach Tuesday to accept a position as Director of the Community Services Department for Santa Barbara County.

“My time spent in Long Beach will always have a special place in my heart,” Chapjian said in a statement. “It has been so wonderful to see how we help the community enrich their lives through our parks, marinas and programming, and I’m going to miss working with our incredibly professional, dedicated, hard-working staff in Long Beach.”

Under Chapjian’s leadership, PRM won the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Parks and Recreation by the National Parks and Recreation Association in 2013. According to a release issued Tuesday, he oversaw a budget of $52 million, 1,300 full and part-time staff and the nation’s largest municipally-owned marina.

“I will always be grateful to George for serving our city with passion and expertise,” said City Manager Patrick West in a statement. “He and his team have helped thousands and thousands of people learn new skills, adopt a pet, live a healthier lifestyle or just enjoy a beautiful day at one of our wonderful parks. We wish him the best, and hope that he succeeds in his new position as much as he did here.”

Chapjian’s last day with the City of Long Beach will be June 26, 2015, at which point the city will conduct a nationwide search for his successor. Upon his departure, the city manager will appoint an interim director to lead PRM until the selection process is complete.

Debbie Mills, director of Human Resources for the City of Long Beach, talked about future candidates for the position.

It’s premature to say exactly what we’re looking for,” Mills said. “Our department is well-known, high-profile and so we’ll certainly be looking for someone to continue on what George has been doing during his time here.”

Long Beach PRM operates 160 parks with 26 community centers, two major tennis centers, one of the busiest municipal golf systems in the country with five courses, the largest municipally operated marina system in the nation with 3,500 boat slips and six miles of beaches. According to the release, more than 3,000 acres within the city’s 50 square miles are developed for recreation.

Mills said the Human Resources Department will select a recruitment firm that has experience in recruiting PRM applicants for higher level positions, a practical maneuver when considering both internal and external candidates for the position.

“Generally speaking, we would be looking for someone who has broad experience in the field of parks, recreation and marine,” said Mills.

According to the release, Chapjian holds multiple degrees from the University of Southern California, including a Master of Social Work, a Master of Gerontology and a Bachelor of Art in Psychology. Prior to his appointment in Long Beach in 2011, Chapjian was the director of the City of Glendale’s Community Services and Parks Department for eight years.

In addition to managing the city’s park department, he also administered arts and culture programs, grant administration, federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and homeless programs. Prior to that position, he worked for the City of Pasadena in Neighborhood Revitalization, Human Services, and for its city manager’s office.

Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].