Q&A (Part 1): Michael Murdoch, Superintendent of Quiet Waters Park
What is it like to spend all day, every day in a place known for its beauty, serenity and yes, sometimes sled dogs too?
Greater Annapolis Patch managed to steal a few moments with Michael Murdoch, the superintendent of Quiet Waters Park, to talk about his role with the popular county destination.
Murdoch was gracious enough to take some time and share his thoughts on a variety of topics. Please enjoy the first part of his interview and check in tomorrow for Part 2.
Patch: What does a typical day consist of for you? In other words, what does the superintendent of Quiet Waters Park do on a daily basis?
Murdoch: I generally get in early, around 6:30 or 7 a.m. and then check my mail and email. I get about 50 emails a day, which seems like a lot for me. Of course, about half require no response, but five to 10 generally need some type of timely response and I do that then.
I read the Ranger Daily Reports (reports that the rangers fill out that outline the most important issues they faced during their shifts) to see if any issues need addressing. Then I go out and drive around the park and trails, including going to Thomas Point Park.
Many people do not know that we also manage Thomas Point Park and Beverly-Triton Beach Park. Getting out gives me the chance to see the park as others see it and to meet and talk with our park patrons. I enjoy this very much and would like to do it more often.
I spend a surprising amount of time in my office, due to my duties, so it helps to have a routine of getting out. I often meet with park maintenance staff and let them know of any pertinent issues that need to be resolved.
We have a complex series of seasonal maintenance tasks that need attention, including managing fountains, pools, the ice rink and a host of other mechanical procedures and our maintenance staff does a great job with them.
When I get back to the office I go through the rest of my mail and answer more emails. I often meet with our office manager to go over any citizen requests or other issues that she has pending.
We often have to respond to requests where patrons want something that is not in our rules or policies. Some of these get "bumped" up to my supervisor or to the director of Recreation and Parks, Rick Anthony, for his consideration.
I have to spend a lot of time on basic personnel issues like schedules, approving leave, signing time sheets and dealing with other personnel issues.
I then often meet with the rangers to discuss current issues and to work on upcoming programs or events. We have programming year-round and do not have any slow periods, so it is important for our staff to plan ahead.
Right now we are working on completing our Summer Concert Series; planning the ASO Labor Day Concert; organizing the groundbreaking of the Watershed Environmental Experience (WEE) Garden; planning the popular Arts & Music Festival (Sept. 24, 25); working on the Howl-O-Ween Barkin Bash Festival (Oct. 29); and of course, working on getting the Ice Rink ready for the season to open (on Oct. 31).
All of these programs take a lot of planning and effort to insure that they are successful. Our staff works very hard to make sure that they all operate smoothly.
I am truly fortunate to have a great staff to work on these events. The rest of my day consists of more office work, meetings, and telephone calls, but this changes due to the current issues that might be affecting the park. I sometimes respond to mechanical problems, first aid issues, dog park issues, citizen complaints, etc.
If I have time I try to go out in the afternoon for another park tour. After work and generally at night I often walk my dogs around the park.
Patch: Your favorite time of the year at Quiet Waters? Why?
Murdoch: My favorite time of the year is winter. I am a cold-weather person so I enjoy wintertime in the park. I really enjoy the snow and especially the times when we have had a lot of snow.
I think the park looks beautiful with a heavy blanket of snow. I like the ice-skating season, although I am not a very good skater.
Patch: Funniest or most surprising incident that's happened at Quiet Waters?
Murdoch: There have been many of these moments—some of which I cannot relate here. The one that sticks out the most, however, was one that occurred about 15 years ago.
I was walking my dogs around the park at night with about 8 inches of snow on the ground. A day or two before this I had seen an otter scramble across the frozen pond and dive down a hole it had created in the ice in the center of the pond so I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the otter again.
As I was walking on the road around the pond I was startled by something that flew by me with dogs barking as it went. It went by me so fast that I could hardly tell what it was. It turned out to be a local person who had sled dogs and was training them at night to avoid traffic.
I felt like I was watching the Iditerod in Alaska! Who gets to see sled dogs in Annapolis?