Cloverdale City Engineer and Public Works Director Mark Rincón is leaving his post on June 29, following a job offer from the city of St. Helena. Rincón has been with the city of Cloverdale since July 2016.
“During Mark’s tenure, Mark oversaw completion of key infrastructure projects including the Safe Routes to School Phase 2 project on South Cloverdale project, Vista View Slide Repair Project and the Taxiway Pavement Rehabilitation Project at the Cloverdale Airport. Mark also oversaw the design and installation of the Treadway Santana Signalization project on South Cloverdale Boulevard and preparation of the Park Master Plan for Cloverdale 2nd Street City Park,” said City Manager David Kelley in a statement about Rincón’s time with the city.
Rincón said that he’d been looking for a job that would allow him more freedom to grow within the role of city engineer and public works director, as well as one that would allow him to do more community outreach, specifically with youth.
St. Helena fit the bill.
Cloverdale’s lack of funding has made it difficult for Rincón and his one assistant to keep up with project workload, and the city “has never recognized the issues I have with an underfunded department,” he said.
As city engineer and public works director for St. Helena, Rincón will have four engineers rather than one, and while the city is smaller than Cloverdale by about 2,600 people, its public works department has a larger budget, he said.
“I always wanted to develop some community-focused projects for myself personally, so this gives me a little bit more flexibility in defining what I can do, especially for youth,” Rincón said of the new role. “In other places where I’ve worked I’ve always taken on youth as engineering support. I’ve done that in Oakland, I’ve done that in L.A. — introducing high school students to engineering because there’s always going to be a shortage of engineers.”
“I’ve managed to mentor five students and all of them went on to top-notch engineering schools,” he added.
In the past, Rincón has been able to work with individual Cloverdale High School students through a program that helped fund work with local students, but the program only brought in one student per year and was defunded due to COVID-19, he said.
Looking back, Rincón said that, in addition to completing surprise projects like the Vista View slide repair, he takes pride in the work he’s done thus far to try and get Cloverdale into the 21st century.
“I’ve been pushing to get our utilities digitized and georeferenced so we can go on to the next phase,” away from using Macbooks and instead getting the city to a point where public works staff can use tablets to help control different things, Rincón said.
Rincón called out working with public works staff as one of the high points of his time with Cloverdale.
“I have a very cohesive group and I’m proud of the guys in public works,” he said.
“The city of Cloverdale will benefit from the completed projects for many years to come. The city wishes Mark continued success in his next position,” Kelley said.
While Rincón will be working in St. Helena, he’ll continue to reside in Cloverdale. Though his last day in the position is June 29, he’ll be out of office two weeks immediately beforehand.
Kelley said that the city is planning to fill the position on an interim basis to minimize disruptions on current projects and programs and that recruitment for a full-time replacement will begin following an update of the recruitment materials.
“Typically, the recruitment process for a key position like city engineer can take three to four months to complete before a new person is ready to step into the role,” Kelley said. “The city anticipates that it may be challenging to fill the position quickly due to the competitive labor market and relative shortage of qualified applicants with the requisite qualifications and experience for the position which includes the Professional Engineer (PE) License. According to salary surveys conducted in 2020, compensation for the city of Cloverdale Public Works Director/City Engineer position is approximately 20% below the median and 17% below average compensation of other comparative agencies (Cotati, Healdsburg, Sebastopol, Sonoma and St. Helena). Despite compensation and other challenges, senior staff will work to identify key needs of the city and position and move forward with the recruitment process to fill the key position in the city.”