Editors note: This is part of an ongoing series of conversations with city and county officials, beginning in Ardmore and Carter County before branching out into greater Southern Oklahoma.
 

Q: What does the future of Parks and Rec. look like, are any big projects coming our way?
A: “The first thing that comes to mind obviously is the family entertainment center. That is by far our biggest project that’s coming very quickly. It’s been exciting working on it. We hope to announce the name at the community forum July 19, so that’s coming up. Of course, the splash pad. That’s something that’s going to happen very quickly. But the family entertainment center is by far our largest project.”
Q: Do you know when bids will re-open for the new splash pad?
A: “We had to put it back out for bid. We’re excited about this new splash pad at Southwest Park. Bids will open July 10 at 3 p.m. There is a strong possibility that we won’t get it done this summer. We don’t close the splash pads until Oct. 1, but that’s a really short window of time. When we had to put construction back out to bid, it really shortened our window. I was hoping for about a month where we would be fully operational, but with the setback I think it’s going to happen. But we’re still going to move forward and it will be ready to go next summer.”
Q: Are there any parks, activities or services that you have seen other cities provide that you would like to bring to Ardmore?
A: “One of the things we have looked at, and will continue to look at is pickle ball. That’s one of the things that reach those who don’t play tennis anymore, like our mature adults. We have a small group here that plays in our community center in the winter they use the gym. We have started looking at probably placing some of those in our parks. We have outdoor tennis courts now, and some of the (pickle ball players), during the good weather, play on those as well. It’s quite a movement for the mature adults nationwide for Parks and Rec.
I think across the nation that family oriented activities are the hottest trend right now, and our splash pad and new disk golf course are things that families can do together. So, Ardmore is right there with them.”
Q: How have you seen the Parks and Recreation department change since becoming  the director?
A: “I don’t know if it is so much a change, as we just continue on the path. Ardmore Parks and Recreation has always been known, and one of the reasons I came here 11 years ago is because it’s known, for being a very progressive department. I think we have just continued on that path. We try to keep up with “the new,” and you know if it fits our community and the needs of our citizens then we try to go that way.”
Q: What do you think is the most important service the Parks and Recreation provides?
A: “I think if we’re wrapping it up into a nutshell, I think it is bringing people together. Whether it be just a beautiful park to walk in, or an activity,  a festival or craft fair. You know Parks and Rec. has this unique way of bringing all generations, all people together. So, I think if you’re going to put it all into one, that’s the most important.”
Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge the people of Ardmore face?
A: “Ardmore is so blessed with wonderful people who give financially and are very supportive, and as far as Parks and Recreation, we are fortunate to have our commissioners that realize our parks and recreation division adds to, and improves the quality of life for our citizens. I think as Ardmore in general, the biggest struggle is balancing that small town feeling with the amount of growth we are having. We still like to walk down the street and speak to people and know who they are. It’s a challenge for us, it will take a good balance of everything, but I think we’re on the right track.”
 Q: What is the biggest challenge you face being the Parks and Recreation director?
A: “The biggest challenge I face is meeting the needs of our citizens. Because their needs are ever changing, which means my department is ever changing. Because Parks and Rec. is so diverse, you know we have everything from the cemetery, to the water park, adult sports, activities, and lakes. So that challenge, meeting the needs of the community in all those areas that are always changing, I think that’s a challenge. But, I think it is a good challenge.”  
We try to put different features and different types of playgrounds in when we can. Just because you live on one side of town doesn’t mean you don’t visit a park on the other side of town. So we try to meet the needs.”
Q: What do you think is the greatest need that the Parks and Recreation fills?
A: “Their time to unplug. Whether that’s time spent in the park, a team competition, or a family afternoon at the water park. It’s their time to come together and take a break from their busy schedule. We all need to unplug.”