Hanging Up His Hammer

Carmichael, CA  |  Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner
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Retiring Park Services Manager Keith Maddison’s final projects included improvements at Carmichael Park District’s Jensen Gardens. Photo by Susan Skinner

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Thirty-six years after signing on for seasonal work, Keith Maddison this month retires as Carmichael Park District’s service manager. Maddison has overseen development of five community parks and is credited with saving the cash-poor district millions of dollars by thinking outside (and sometimes inside) the box.

“I’ve used district staff in as many projects as possible,” the handyman explains. “We’ve economized by not hiring project managers or general contractors. I could usually fill those roles myself.  We did a Carmichael Park water system renovation to my plan. It was approved by our engineers and with help from Carmichael Water District, we saved more than a million dollars in construction. This plan also cuts meter tap fees by $40,000 a year.” When Jan Park trails met a ditch, Madison located an old metal bridge among Sunrise Park District relics. “They gave it to us and we renovated it.” Says the boss. “That saved us $10,000. When you don’t have money, it’s good to have friends.”

Maddison’s can-do attitude evolved over a lifetime of fixing stuff. “At 14, I built a house with my dad in Des Moines, Iowa,” he says. “While enlisted, I worked in a US Navy shipyard.  I built luxury mobile homes in Woodland. There’s hardly a hitch I haven’t encountered on building sites. I don’t stand around barking orders; I work from the trenches. I pride myself on problem-solving but I’ve had a fantastic district staff; I couldn’t have managed without them.”

A harder problem to solve is how the father of five will deal with retirement. “I started off doing a job,” he considers. “It developed into a career and at some point, I took emotional ownership of all our facilities. It’ll be hard to leave.”

Maddison hopes to see through improvements at Sutter/Jenson Community Park. His vision for the redeveloped beauty-spot includes turning a 70-year-old former family home into an event center. Garfield House will be available for private events by fall.

“It’ll be great to see it functioning to enrich our cash-poor district,” he predicts. “I don’t want to retire and walk away from this project. So, I’ll probably come back and volunteer.”