Juan Guzman not only will enjoy Independence Day next month, but looks forward to independence day two months later.
Guzman, Carson City’s Open Space manager the past 14 years, is a quarter century veteran of city government work here. He is set to retire Sept. 4.
He will be missed, according to Roger Moellendorf, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Moellendorf is Guzman’s boss and the man who stamped “DENIED” on Guzman’s letter of resignation as a bantering gesture of respect.
“I don’t know who’s going to provide comic relief at meetings now,” said Moellendorf. All kidding aside, though, Moellendorf also showed his respect with praise for Guzman’s dedication to shepherding the city’s open space program since before the Parks and Recreation director arrived on the scene eight years ago.
“Juan is a consummate public servant,” Moellendorf said, adding that Guzman is the best open space man in the state and has displayed a parallel commitment to transparency in government by keeping the public abreast of developments. That’s code for not only transparency and accessibility, but a tongue-in-check nod to an inter-office rivalry between Guzman and Vern Krahn, city parks planner. Krahn and Guzman have a friendly competition over exposure in the media.
Krahn recently said Guzman may be in the lead now, but the open space manager’s retirement means the parks planner will clean Guzman’s clock longer term as coming years give him the edge. Guzman, 61, meanwhile is moving on to more relevant pursuits like the trip he and his spouse, Teri, will take to Scandinavia after his retirement.
The couple plans first to go to Sweden to take delivery on a Volvo for their tour of that country, Norway and Finland.
Guzman, a native of Puerto Rico, has a degree in geography and did graduate work in California before a trip to the Sierra Nevada area south of Carson City stunned him into a life-changing move during his young adulthood, He said back then he fell in love with the mountains.
Later he became a planner in Douglas County and was there five years before coming to Carson City in a similar capacity. A planner here until 2000, he then moved over to become Open Space manager when that job was created. He moved from Community Development’s planning division to Open Space in Parks and Recreation.
“It has been a very fulfilling life,” Guzman said. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t moments of apprehension. One was when he moved to his open space stewardship job 14 years ago.
“I came in and I sat down and I panicked,” he said. “I thought, ‘Will this phone ever ring?’ It started right away and it never stopped.”
He said 14 transactions in 14 years and some donations, as well as land transfers from the Federal government, mean there is much open space. He said 1,500 acres have been bought; 900 along the Carson Range came from the U.S. Forest Service, and 3,500 more on the city’s east side are about to transfer in from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for city stewardship. The latter land is along the Carson River from Prison Hill to near the Lyon County line.
The job wasn’t done alone. Among others, he credited Moellendorf and two previous directors, members of the Board of Supervisors over the years, and Open Space Committee chairmen Steve Hartman and Bruce Scott.
Guzman is proudest of acquiring or getting easements for Horsecreek Ranch on the west side, obtaining the old Buzzy Anderson Ranch to the east, and the overall 14 transactions. Open space is for passive recreation and natural preservation in the consolidated city’s rural areas, which before 1969 were part of old Ormsby County.
“We have set the stage,” he said. “We have a gift for the people of Carson City” that offers the community the means “to become a gem” on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Carson Range.