BRENTWOOD -- Although Bruce Mulder was recently hired as the city's new parks and recreation director, he prefers to think of himself as a facilitator of quality of life for residents within the city.
According to Mulder, the city's public parks, recreational programs and community resources add joy to people's lives every day, from the couple who gets married at the Brentwood Community Center to the parents who create memories with their children at the local parks and athletic fields.
"For each resident, their story is different, but I am confident that our parks and recreation department has made a difference in their lives, and most likely these interactions provide them with opportunities to enjoy a very high quality of life," he said. The Brentwood resident started his new position with the city June 2 after serving on the Brentwood Parks and Recreation Commission for three years. Mulder has maintained a steady career in parks and recreation, with experience at one of Walt Disney World's resorts and most recently as Manteca's deputy director of parks and recreation.
"I am very excited and extremely honored," said Mulder of his new job. "It is humbling."
Mulder credits his predecessor, Craig Bronzan, for investing 15 years into the post and leaving behind award-winning parks, public facilities and recreational programs that are regional draws. Even Bronzan's father, Lou Bronzan, was instrumental in building the city's park district in its infancy, Mulder noted.
"They have created a legacy. It is a huge honor," Mulder said. "Brentwood has really branded itself as having a first-class parks and recreation division. My goal is to step forward and continue the legacy."
Mulder sees Brentwood's trails as a major amenity for local residents and visitors and would like to focus on linking them so that runners, walkers and cyclists can use them to travel throughout the city.
City Manager Paul Eldredge said Mulder's knowledge of the community coupled with his experience and education made him a perfect fit for the position, which drew more than 80 applicants.
Brentwood Parks and Recreation Commissioner Eileen Hofstadt said Mulder's sincerity, devotion, resiliency and resourcefulness will serve him well in the new position.
"He is very thoughtful and very engaged in public service. He is a quiet, calming force," she said. "With his experience, he will be well-suited for the job in Brentwood."
Mulder said that parks and recreation are a catalyst for economic development in addition to being a critical partner in public health and safety.
"Parks and recreation has a huge economic impact. You have to think of it from a commercial standpoint," he said. "We create jobs, create demand for markets and create tourism through sports, recreation and events. We have the ability to create tourism destinations."
Although Mulder's educational and career background is more intertwined with recreation, he spends more time in Brentwood's parks for exercise and quality time with his 5-year-old son. He sees future challenges with the ongoing maintenance of aging parks and building new parks as development picks up.
Mulder said Brentwood will continue to invest in the department and garner more awards for the city's parks, programs and amenities. He added that the current City Council has had the vision to support parks and recreation and recognize their value.
"This is a community of the hardworking middle class, and it is truly one of the best cities in the Bay Area where you can enjoy a very high quality of life, still afford to purchase a home, give your kids an outstanding education and enjoy a hometown atmosphere where heritage and values are celebrated," Mulder said.
Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174 or firstname.lastname@example.org.