Importance of Town Parks & Rec duties

It started with a vision by a group of talented citizens who wanted to control the destiny of what is now the Town of Farragut. After the first officials were elected on April 1, 1980, it didn’t take them long to realize that Parks & Recreation was one of the vital areas to develop in the Town of Farragut.

They established the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee that very same year – one of the first volunteer committees to be appointed. After a decade of running the show with volunteers and light assistance from Town staff, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen appointed the first Park and Recreation director in 1990. A new era of professional park and recreation was born in the Town of Farragut.

Development of Anchor Park started in 1983 and the first section, 26 acres, of Mayor Bob Leonard Park (then Watt Road Park) was purchased in 1985. As they say, over the last 42 years, “We’ve come a long way, baby!”

Farragut now boasts over 138 acres of park land located in five parks and one plaza, 56 acres of undeveloped land — some suitable for passive development and some suitable for buffers — one community center with a gym, classrooms, a large meeting hall for rental and offices and 22 miles of greenway links. All are situated within 16 square miles.

Staffing has grown from that one person to nine full-time and approximately 20 part-time staff that work in the community center, in parks and as athletic officials. During those years, Parks & Recreation has also stepped in at various times to manage citizen requests, communications, tourism and more – all because that’s what you do when you work for a small town. You work as a team.

Now the Parks & Recreation Department provides staff seven days a week, 363 days a year from 7:30 a.m. to late evenings – often 11 p.m. or later on busy summer or fall weekends.

Our park attendants are some of the most visible employees. They make sure trash is removed, restrooms are clean and picnic, court and field rentals are working well, along with a host of other responsibilities. Visitors to the Farragut Community Center are greeted by our community center attendants who answer questions in person and on the phone, complete check-ins and assist in the setup or preparation for programs and rentals and more.

Full-time staff have the longest list of responsibilities. They manage the park and recreation divisions; perform administrative services related to the department; order and inspect equipment; maintain athletic fields, except for mowing; create and maintain programs, athletics and special events; handle all rentals (fields, pavilions, community center); coordinate the Town volunteer programs; apply for grants; and handle many other small projects.

We work in tandem with the Engineering and Community Development Departments on park and greenway capital projects; with the Public Works Department on general maintenance of our parks, greenways and community center; and with the Administration Department on funding, budgeting, staffing and more.

Working in Parks & Recreation is exciting and extremely rewarding, but it means working many nights and weekends during the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter. It involves handling millions of details to create the perfect Independence Day Parade or Father/Daughter dance; filling many requests or listening to complaints to make a facility rental just right; spending many hours completing and monitoring grant applications that fund additional facilities beyond what the Town can fund; creating the perfect programs by finding the right instructors and materials; and prepping ballfields and repairing the synthetic turf for our community and visitors.

I could go on and on.

The citizens of Farragut, the surrounding community and our visitors are lucky to be able to enjoy our wonderful facilities, exciting events and enticing programs.

We owe thanks to the elected officials who, over the years, have prioritized parks facilities and programs, as well as the staff that have put their heart and soul into planning and executing their vision.

Sue Stuhl

Town Parks & Recreation director