March 24, 2011
Garrett Tabbed as First-Ever City Parks Director
By Hannah Kiddoo
Spring has officially sprung and the weather has cooperated, turning the attention of many area residents to outdoor activities. In an attempt to expand the offerings of the city's park systems to meet these needs, the Memphis City Council recently created the position of Parks Manager.
On March 10th the council voted 3-0 to hire Allen Garrett to fill the newly created full-time position (Alderman Chris Feeney was absent from the meeting). Mayor William Reckenberg noted that Garrett was selected from a talented pool of applicants. He currently is completing a commitment to the Knox County School District, where he serves as high school and junior high athletic director that runs through May. However, Garrett has already taken the reigns of the new park director position, working after hours in effort to hit the ground running in May.
The city expects Garrett to bring those skills he gained as an administrator of sporting events to work for the park system, as the council targeted the creation of a variety of sports leagues as one of the top priorities for the new post.
The council highlighted the decline of the number of offerings such as men's slow-pitch softball, a league that was no longer offered because of a lack of administration.
The city also hopes to begin utilizing Johnson Park for other sporting events that ultimately could bring tourism dollars into town as teams from outside of Memphis travel to town to compete in tournaments and special leagues.
Softball and baseball are just two points of emphasis, as the city will also consider other offerings such as soccer and flag football for youth and washers and horse shoe tournaments for all ages.
Added park usage would also lead to additional income from concession sales at the parks, which ultimately could add to the parks budget for future improvements and expansion.
Council members agreed the possibilities are nearly limitless and will depend in large part on public input to establish the demand for certain offerings.
In addition to these tasks, Garrett will also assume direction of the Memphis Swimming Pool. In years past the city has hired a pool manager, but those duties will now be shared by the head lifeguards under the supervision of the parks director.
All maintenance and upkeep issues at Johnson and Legion parks will be under the direction of the new position. The city hires a seasonal parks maintenance worker to perform mowing and repairs. That position will now report to the parks director, as will all employees of the swimming pool.
Council members expressed their excitement about the limitless possibilities the new post could create, but advised expectations must be tempered in the inaugural year for the post as time is consumed laying the ground work for continued growth of the city's parks system.