DANVERS — With the retirement of longtime Endicott Park stewards Dave and Joan Townley last month, the town has created a new position — natural resources director — and promoted Waterfront Manager/Harbormaster Chris Sanborn to oversee both the 165-acre park and operations on the water.
Sanborn will be based at Town Hall and oversee staff patrolling the waters of Danvers Harbor and the park rangers tending to Endicott Park.
The park on Forest Street attracts 160,000 visitors a year to its nature trails, playground, sledding hills, community gardens, training field, children’s animal barn, visitors center and various summer programs.
Sanborn will report to Recreation Director David Mountain, who began to create a plan for Endicott Park more than eight months ago as the Townleys made plans to retire to Conway, N.H., on Jan. 1. The idea was to enhance the park and expand the roles of those working there, without adding staff or increasing the budget.
“Most importantly, how can we continue to build on the success story of the Townleys after all these years?” Town Manager Wayne Marquis said. “How do we take it to the next level?”
The Townleys had lived and worked at the park for more than 40 years. Dave Townley worked as an independent contractor, while his wife served as a park ranger for more than a decade. Living at the park really meant a seven-day-a-week, year-round commitment and lifestyle. David Townley was paid $52,500 as park director.
Sanborn does not plan to be a live-in caretaker. Marquis said there are sophisticated security systems in place, the park’s gates are locked in the evening, and there are regular police patrols. Sanborn will earn a salary of just under $67,500, about $10,000 more than he was making before the promotion.
The park will still have three full-time rangers, some of whom may take on expanded duties.
Sanborn seemed a good fit for the new position. A Danvers native and Danvers High graduate (Class of 1988), he has a background in recreation, law enforcement and resource management. He worked closely with the Townleys for several months to make the transition.
“They were very supportive, very helpful, and I think it’s fair to say quite invested in this plan as a solid idea, as a good idea, and they wanted to pass on their institutional knowledge to Chris,” Marquis said.
Sanborn’s involvement with Endicott Park goes back 20 years when he was part of the first group of Police Explorers there at age 14. The teenagers volunteered to learn about law enforcement, collect parking fees, assist parking cars at events and patrol the park on bikes, among other things. Sanborn eventually became friendly with Dave Townley.
“I wanted to do more with the park,” Sanborn said, “so I actually volunteered outside of the explorer program. We did everything other than operate power equipment, building fences and things. I was fortunate that when I turned 18, Dave actually hired me full time as a park ranger down there. I worked for a couple of years doing that. I loved doing it.”
Sanborn also works part time as a reserve police officer in Topsfield and Wenham.
Though there may be a lot on Sanborn’s plate, Marquis said he’ll still have a deputy harbormaster and assistants to patrol the waterfront.
“I view my job as probably mostly administrative at this point,” Sanborn said. “I don’t see myself getting out on the boat much — as much as I would like, anyway.”
Sanborn is married to Ashley Sanborn, a Danvers police detective, and they have a 7-month-old daughter, Miranda Rae.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.