“Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.”
As I was searching for pictures of the Randall Park improvement project for this 2018 Fall Program Guide, I realized that in October I will have been the Parks & Recreation Manager for the City of Yakima for 10 years. This just doesn’t seem possible. Where did the time go? As I was looking through the file of pictures, I was reminded of the many various projects that have been completed over the years and I can’t believe what we have been able to accomplish even in the years of reduced budgets and staffing. I recalled one of my first tasks as the new Parks and Recreation Manager was overseeing the demolition of the five structures that were located on the property that is now the three new softball fields and parking lot at Kiwanis Park near Fair Avenue. The completion of the Kiwanis Park project was a large collaborative effort and showed me the power and generosity of the Yakima community. I didn’t realize at the time that this project was just the first of many that I would be part of completing with our partners. Some of my favorite memories from the past years are the community playground builds made possible by our amazing service clubs at various parks. Working from the concept of the playground to putting in the last bolt to make a new place for kids and adults to enjoy is truly a joyful experience for me.
The visioning for the Comprehensive Master Plans for Yakima Parks and Recreation has been another area that I have had the pleasure to be able to contribute to the process. I have had the privilege of working on the past two plans and meeting with people about what they want and need in their parks.
The new recreation programs that have been started over the past years are also something that I cherish. Our concert series at Miller Park and now at Martin Luther King Jr. Park are just two examples of new community events that have been provided. I am also so grateful to the staff that I get to work with on a daily basis. Some have moved on to other jobs and some have retired, but their contributions to the City of Yakima Parks and Recreation Division are still felt.
As I move forward into my 11th year, I would like to thank the Yakima City Council members, both past and present, and past and present City Administrations for the support and encouragement that has allowed us to do great things. I am very grateful to the Parks and Recreation Commission members over the years for their support and advice on some of the many different topics and concerns. I am also thankful for the amazing staff that I have had the privilege to work alongside presently and over the past years. Together we have made our community a better place to live, work and play. Lastly, I am grateful to my wife, Lora, and our three children for their support and for being willing to move across the country so I could take the job here in Yakima. I am hopeful that my being here has made a significant positive impact on our community. One of my professional goals has always been to make a positive impact on the community that I serve.
As we prepare for the road ahead, I am asking myself “What’s next?” What new projects will we start? We have quite a few ideas. What new programs will be created? The talented and knowledgeable recreation staff have quite a few programs in mind. How can we better serve the community? We will continue to make a strong effort to be ready to meet the recreation program and facility needs of our community as we prepare for the future while still remembering to celebrate the past.
Ken Wilkinson, Parks and Recreation Manager