Ben Stentz, the recreation director for Princeton for more than a decade, announced on Monday that he has decided to resign from his job with the municipality.
Stentz, a well-liked staff member who is highly regarded by employees and residents alike, has worked for the recreation department for about 22 years and had been looking for advancement opportunities within the municipality. He and his wife, Johnson Park Elementary Principal Angie Siso Stentz, have a summer home in Delaware, and he earned his real estate license in Delaware last year. He said he decided to leave this summer in order to pursue other professional opportunities in Delaware and in Mercer County.
“I had a plan to slowly build my real estate business on a very part-time basis over the next four to five years and then transition into it full-time as my Princeton Recreation Department career would be winding down,” Stentz said in his resignation letter. “The timeline got accelerated quite quickly, quicker than I ever expected, and I was faced with a choice as I can’t possibly do both jobs in both states simultaneously. So, I will be continuing to build my business in Delaware and will be bringing the business to Mercer County later this year. I am excited about it all. In addition, I have some other business opportunities and professional pursuits on my radar that I am excited to get moving on.”
Stentz started working at Princeton Recreation Department checking pool badges when he was 15 years old. He later went on to coach sports at Clarion University. He returned to the Princeton area in 1999, and worked at the YMCA for six months before getting hired as the program supervisor at the Princeton Recreation Department.
“It’s been a long and rewarding run for me, full of excitement, challenges, learning, and a lot more ‘wins’ than ‘losses’. Of course, the most impactful part of the past 30-plus years at PRD is the relationships forged with my recreation department teammates, with multiple generations of Princetonians, and with the recreation commission members who have shown me and the team an unwavering level of support and trust that has been the foundation of all the success that the department has had in my time,” Stentz said, adding that he is grateful for the level-headed leadership of the recreation commission.
“I appreciate that as a group we could openly debate topics and sometimes disagree on things without ever allowing it to become personal,” Stentz said. “The highest level of professional courtesy and respect was always in order among the commission and the staff. I also want to acknowledge the critical understanding that the commission has always had of their statutory role as a governing body versus the staff’s role as the trained, seasoned industry professionals. The ability for commissioners and staff to work together effectively without veering off into each other’s lanes is paramount. The recreation commission remains a model of effective governance and I am honored to have served for the commission for so many years.”
Stentz said now more than ever, the town needs great recreation opportunities and facilities as people work to fight the childhood obesity epidemic, rising levels of mental health stress, and the lingering effects that COVID-19 has had on the health and wellness of the community. “There is a growing need for our attention and resources to be further directed into the special needs and adaptive populations of Princeton, an area that we could and should be funding to a greater degree,” he said.
July 2 tentatively will be the last day on the job for Stentz. Under state statute, commissions have the duty to hire and reappoint executive directors, and staff members as needed.