Cory Styron spearheaded opening The Beach at Lake Farmington. Now he is leaving the city.
FARMINGTON — Farmington’s Outdoor Recreation Industry Initiative Director Cory Styron has resigned after more than six years of service to the city.
Styron took the role as ORII director last fall and previously served as the director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs. His last day at the City of Farmington will be June 7.
“Cory’s significant contribution in the early formation and implementation of the vision for ORII as a tool for economic diversification and local quality of life will be also be a lasting legacy,” City Manager Rob Mayes said in an email.
Styron said he has worked for governments for about 25 years and was interested in taking a sabbatical. The time off will allow him to evaluate his future plans.
Styron: ‘This seemed like a good time for me to step away’
Styron said he looked at the projects that are currently planned and underway and when those projects will likely be completed.
“This seemed like a good time for me to step away and let somebody else take the reins,” he said.
Mayes said he and Styron had discussed Styron’s future employment for some time before Styron resigned.
“Ultimately, he and I agreed together, that this was the right timing for Cory to submit his resignation, effective June 7, in order to provide an opportunity for a well-deserved sabbatical prior to his next chapter in public service,” Mayes said. “I was very grateful Cory provided ample notice in order to facilitate a smooth transition of his responsibilities. ORII is one of the most critical industry sector targets identified for economic development in our region.”
Mayes said those target sectors include retirement, tourism, energy and manufacturing, education, agriculture, health services and location neutral jobs.
Styron championed changes at Lake Farmington
When Styron started working for the city in February 2013, Lake Farmington was closed to watercraft and swimming. The reservoir closed to watercraft in 2012 due to concerns of invasive aquatic species like quagga muscles. Styron worked with New Mexico Department of Game and Fish to create an inspection station at the lake. This allowed the city to open the reservoir to nonmotorized water craft in 2015.
A few years later, Styron asked the City Council to create a swimming area at Lake Farmington. This came as Styron requested closing Brookside Pool due to health and safety concerns. Construction is currently underway for a replacement to the pool — the Bisti Bay at Brookside Park.
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Meanwhile, the Beach at Lake Farmington has become a popular summer recreation spot and the city continues to expand services offered at the lake. Styron oversaw the development of a campground and has worked with the city as it explores the possibility of adding a zipline.
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He said the sheer joy of the community when the lake reopened to watercraft and as new amenities are added at the lake is one of his favorite memories from his time at the city.
Civic Center remodeled under Styron’s guidance
Styron said another one of his favorite memories from working at the city was watching families enjoying the ice-skating rink during Miracle on Main Street. The now-annual holiday celebration began in 2015. The popularity of the ice-skating rink was one of the factors considered as the city remodeled the Farmington Civic Center. Styron said the remodel of the civic center was another one of the major projects he helped the city complete.
Styron helped reduce euthanasia at shelter
When Styron came to the city in 2013, half of all the animals that entered the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter were euthanized. Styron’s leadership, along with a new facility, helped the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter reduce its euthanasia rate as it transitioned from an animal control philosophy to a welfare-based philosophy.
Between 2013 and 2015 the euthanasia rate dropped to less than 28 percent, according to The Daily Times archives.
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PRCA gains accreditation
The PRCA became the first nationally accredited parks and recreation department in the state under Styron’s leadership. The department became accredited through the Commission for Accreditation of Parks and Recreation Agencies in 2014.
Outdoor recreation, economic development departments consolidated
Mayes said the City of Farmington has not made a long-term decision about replacing Styron and the outdoor recreation department will be consolidated with the economic development department led by Warren Unsicker.
He said Styron’s construction management duties will be assumed by other departments as projects unfold.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.