Assistant superintendent taking reins at Sandy Hook

Current superintendent moving to fill spot at park in California

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

GLORIA STRAVELLI Richard Wells, currently deputy superintendent at the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, will take over as acting superintendent Jan. 11.GLORIA STRAVELLI Richard Wells, currently deputy superintendent at the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, will take over as acting superintendent Jan. 11.

The National Park Service announced changes at the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area where the agency is meeting resistance to a proposed development on Fort Hancock.

Deputy Superintendent Richard Wells has been named Acting Superintendent of the Sandy Hook Unit effective Jan. 11.

Wells is moving into the spot that will be vacated by current superintendent Russel Wilson, who will leave the park service’s Northeast Region for northern California where he will assume the post of deputy superintendent at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.

Gregory Marshall, currently assistant to the commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor, will become part of the Sandy Hook team while retaining his current post, Wells said.

"As deputy superintendent I advised the superintendent, now I will be the local decision maker," Wells said Saturday following a presentation at the Post Theater on Sandy Hook by the head of Sandy Hook Partners, the developer selected by the park service to rehabilitate historic buildings at Fort Hancock.

Wells said he will compete for the position of superintendent, a position appointed by the secretary of the Department of the Interior.

Wilson and Wells were assigned to Sandy Hook in 2000. Wilson succeeded former Superintendent Charles Baerlin.

Wells began his NPS career in 1977 and will mark his 27th year with the NPS in January, he said Saturday.

"Russ and I functioned as a team. We were brought here because of our skills, " he said.

Wilson, an attorney, was given responsibility for the legal aspects of the NPS plan to pursue a public/private partnership with Sandy Hook Partners, he said, while Wells was drafted for his background in historic preservation.

Prior to accepting the Sandy Hook assignment, Wells was named director of planning and development at the Statue of Liberty in 1993. Earlier, he was director of restoration for the $800 million rehabilitation of Ellis Island where he oversaw the establishment of the National Immigration Museum.

A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Wells joined the park service planning office in 1977 after earning a degree in historic landscape architecture.

Wells’ career includes service at the Boston National Historic District, the transition of Valley Forge from a state to a national park, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and restoration at the home of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in Hyde Park, N.Y.

Wilson has a degree in park management as well as a law degree. He joined the park service in 1977 and worked as a seasonal park ranger at various parks throughout the country.

In 1987, he was appointed an assistant district attorney for the

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and in 1992 returned to the NPS and worked for the Ranger Activities Division of the Alaska Regional Office in Anchorage.

In 1995, he was assigned to the NPS headquarters in Washington, D.C. as the Alaska Regional Directors’ representative; in 1998 he was appointed acting superintendent of War in the Pacific National Historical Park, Guam, and the American Memorial Park, Siapan, then moved to Denali National Park and Preserve as acting deputy superintendent before being appointed superintendent at Sandy Hook in March 2000.