This winter Steve Randall retires after 37 years at the helm of the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District. It’s a job Steve calls “the best in the world.” I’ve worked with Steve for more than two decades, and know his impact on Truckee will be felt for years to come. Former Truckee mayor Maia Schneider summed it up well in an interview with Steve for the Truckee-Tahoe Community TV show Truckee Talks: “If Steve Randall says it’s going to get done, it’s going to get done,” she said.
Steve’s gift was harnessing the unique talents and abilities of his team and the citizens of Truckee and making things happen.
Steve was hired as general manager by the TDRPD in 1985. Previously, he’d been a recreation director in Sausalito. My first experience with him was sometime in the winter of 1999/2000. I was new in town, searching for a place to play basketball, and had stumbled upon the roundball paradise that is the Truckee Veterans Hall. With a beautiful view over town and the historic rocking stone nearby, 10 to 20 men and women of all ages, shapes, and sizes played basketball on a hardwood court smaller than most half courts. If you signed the sheet and gave Steve a dollar, you got in the game. What I didn’t know at the time was that on behalf of the TDRPD, Steve had purchased the Veterans Hall from Nevada County in 1994. The price was also $1.
One of Steve’s legacies will be the facilities TDRPD added during his tenure. In the fall of 2001, I was a small part of the team that built the Truckee Ice Rink. When I returned the following summer, Riverview Sports Park was completed. I had worked in other parks and recreation agencies and seen how hard it was to get good projects completed.
Things were happening at parks and rec in Truckee, and you wanted to be a part of it.
It took a few years, but eventually I secured a full-time position with TDRPD. I even got to realize my dream of managing lunchtime basketball. It was around this time that land was donated for what became the Community Recreation Center. In 2008, through a partnership with the Truckee Donner Land Trust, the Town of Truckee, and the Truckee Tahoe Airport District, TDRPD took over operation of the Ponderosa Golf Course. Steve’s dealmaking wasn’t done. With the economy in what felt like a precarious position, he got the new rec-center built $7 million under budget.
Steve is more than a dealmaker. He organized countless events and fundraisers as a Rotarian. He also loves to recreate in the parks and facilities he oversees. If he wasn’t playing basketball during the lunch hour, he was playing tennis or pickleball. When the new recreation center was built, he organized art shows that transformed part of the building into a rotating art gallery. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in a suit. You can probably find him, casual and approachable, in a well-worn TDRPD polo and a pair of shorts.
Special events were another area in which Steve shined. He has been grand marshal of the annual downtown Halloween parade since its inception. He always dresses in a festive costume as he leads hundreds of Truckee kids through downtown. On July 4 at West End Beach on Donner Lake, he directs the traditional games varying from pie eating to sack races to the egg toss. It’s a day where you can count on seeing Steve at the beach from early in the morning until the last firework goes off around 10 p.m. He’s been doing it for more than 30 years. It’s a great annual showcase for the entire town.
The dealmaking continued with the transformation of the former recreation center into a performing arts venue in 2014, and the construction of the Truckee Community Swimming Pool in 2016. When Covid hit, the district was able to provide locals with afterschool, enrichment, and childcare options when many other avenues locally were not available. These programs were a lifeline for working families during a tough time.
A new downtown park was completed and dedicated in October. There are exciting projects in the pipeline today that will soon come to fruition. The lighting and fields at Truckee River Regional Park will be completely redesigned for next summer. The Rocker Memorial Skatepark will soon break ground, and 16 pickleball courts are slated to be added to Riverview Sports Park.
In addition to making so many important projects happen, Steve also has displayed personal resilience, overcoming cancer twice, and then traveling the world (to 82 countries) to see what is out there.
Truckee is an amazing town, and throughout his time Steve helped improve our community’s quality of life. Thank you, Steve. I know I will continue to see you at the rec center, in the park, and on the court.
~ Pete Kristian has been a proud occasional Moonshine Ink contributor since issue #2. He is a longtime employee of the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District, where the only boss he has ever known is Steve Randall.