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Poloncarz taps longtime buildings and grounds employee as new parks chief

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz is recommending deputy public works commissioner as his new commissioner of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry.

Dan Rizzo, 53, would be responsible for the oversight of a $6 million annual operation that includes two dozen county-operated parks and golf courses and roughly 60 full-time employees, as well as part-time and seasonal workers. He would earn $111,000 in his new position.

If the County Legislature confirms his appointment, Rizzo would replace Troy Schinzel, who served as parks commissioner for nearly three years until relocating in October to Dallas, where his wife received a job offer, said county spokesman Daniel Meyer said.

Rizzo is a graduate of Kenmore West High School and has been a county employee since 1980. He has held numerous positions in maintenance and mechanical work, moving up through the ranks until he was promoted to deputy commissioner in 2012, overseeing buildings and grounds.

Prior to serving as deputy commissioner, Rizzo worked as an asbestos/indoor air quality coordinator.

Though the county received many applications for the parks position, officials said most applicants were underqualified. Rizzo, an Amherst resident, was one of seven finalists.

Deputy Parks Commissioner Gregory B. Olma, a former county legislator, also applied for the top job but would remain in his current position if Rizzo is appointment.