Opinion: Parks and Rec Work a Lot Like TV Show

AthleticBusiness.com has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.

Copyright 2017 SCRIPPS Howard Publications
All Rights Reserved

Corpus Christi Caller-Times


Last month I had the privilege of speaking about some of the great things happening at the Corpus Christi Parks & Recreation Department with a group of students at Collegiate High School. These students were enthusiastic and very interested in being a part of building a better city for themselves, their families and friends.

After my presentation, several students approached me to discover how they can get involved with the department. One student asked me if I watched the NBC show "Parks & Recreation" and if my life was anything like what's depicted on the hit sitcom. I get this question quite frequently.

The answer? Yes, what goes on at the Corpus Christi Parks & Recreation Department (PARD) is a lot like what you see on the show - on a less ridiculous level.

I am "Leslie Knope." I love my job. I get to work with an amazing group of people. I have a slight crush on Joe Biden and I always look to strong women for an example on how to become a better public servant. I believe wholeheartedly in the great things that good government can do. For the Corpus Christi PARD, this manifests itself as the Gospel of Play - our belief that the solution to all of the problems in the world can begin with parks and recreation.

Our department team is as close, diverse and unique as the fictional Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department. When you spend as much time as we do together creating great experiences and places, it's not surprising you start to feel like family.

On the day after the series' pilot aired, I stopped at Cole Park on the way into the office to take a look at Kids Place. I had to call the police to assist with a homeless person who had slept in the play structure - just as my television counterpart had done the night before. Sometimes life does imitate art.

Two years ago, I thought I was being scammed when a man called and asked for a permit to serve ice cream at the parks using his small horse named "Lil Sebastian" to pull the cart around. Fortunately, I figured out the request was real before I asked if I was on "Candid Camera." I was a little disappointed that we were unable to issue a permit for "Lil Sabastian" and his ice cream cart.

However, unlike the television show we do more long term planning than the off-the-cuff or on-a-whim projects taken on by Leslie and her team in their 30-minute, 13-episode season.

For instance, we have been working on a Program Master Plan for the past 12 months. Along with our consultants, we measured our inventory of programs and recreation facilities against a community needs assessment, stakeholder input and state and national trends and standards for recreation. This study helped us identify gaps in the type of programs and services we need to provide to meet the needs of our residents, as well as, deficiencies in the amount and type of buildings we need to offer those programs. As a result of this study, you'll be seeing new programs focused on individual fitness activities, and intergenerational activities or events. We will also be actively pursuing partnerships to expand our programming efforts.

In addition, the study identified that we have a shortage of indoor recreation space. Benchmark cities throughout Texas have between .07 to 1 square feet of recreation space per capita. Corpus Christi currently has .03 square feet per capita, which is a significant gap. Working with our Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, we've developed a plan for overcoming this gap over the next 10 to 15 years through grants, bonds and partnerships.

Later this spring, we will be working on the mid-term update to our 2012 Parks Master Plan. This update is required by the Texas Parks & Wildlife and is further merited by the improvements we've made to the park system over the last five years and the changes our community has undergone. We will be inviting the public to help us decide what major projects we will take on as a department over the next five years. What will be our next Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve, Play-for-All playground at Salinas Park, or Schanen Hike and Bike Trail?

And this is where we circle back to our similarities with the TV show. Leslie and her team relished stakeholder meetings, public hearings and partnerships, and so do we. Just like the students from Collegiate High, we hope you join us at our stakeholder meetings for the parks master plan, visit us during our Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee meetings and help us create great public spaces by taking part in our Adopt-a-Park program. The key ingredient to our success is you.

But even if you cannot join us for a meeting, we want you to "Treat Yo Self" and get out to visit a park or participate in one of our many programs soon.

Stacie Talbert Anaya is the interim director of the Corpus Christi Parks & Recreation Department.

This monthly series showcases the wide range of activities, services and facilities offered by the Corpus Christi Parks & Recreation Department. www.ccparkandrec.com, 361-826-PLAY

Read More of Today's AB Headlines

Subscribe to Our Daily E-Newsletter

February 6, 2017


Copyright © 2017 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms and Conditions Privacy Policy
Page 1 of 466
Next Page
AB Show 2024 in New Orleans
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Nov. 19-22, 2024
Learn More
AB Show 2024
Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide