The Indiana Park and Recreation Association had the amazing opportunity to hear about the Richmond Parks and Recreation from Superintendent, Denise Retz. Please read below to learn more about Denise and Richmond Parks!
What is your favorite memory at your park agency?
There are so many memories made here at RPRD each and every day. I keep a running list in my phone of the best and funniest what I call “Real Park and Rec Episodes” and the list just keeps getting longer! I believe that is the most fun part of this job. Not any day is the same and you really never know what will transpire. I do love the partnerships that are made with various organizations. We work hard to forge those partnerships to be able to serve more people in our community with less resources. One of my very favorite memories was with a project with a partnership organization Earlham College. We worked together with 5 Seniors on their Capstone Project to research, design, fund and install a playground for all ages and all abilities. We broke ground at Homecoming and opened the Park on schedule at Graduation one year later. The feeling that day from those who felt safe to enter a playground geared towards their needs was unlike any other project I have worked on in my time with RPRD. The thank you cards and calls received still to this day 4 years later still melt my heart. This Playground was titled “ A Playground with A Purpose” and I believe one of those purposes was to encourage me in my position to do more and be more for this community!
How does your agency contribute to the community?
RPRD has over 23 properties we maintain. Included in those properties is a Municipal Pool, a Senior Recreation Center that our community can be a member for ONLY $20 per year, an 18 hole championship golf course, a 6 hole golf practice facility, a municipal baseball stadium, and much more to provide our community with several means of recreational opportunities. We also have several open-air and enclosed facilities in these properties as well to allow our community to make memories with their families and friends. We also do all we can for our non profit friends and allow them to utilize our areas for low cost or free depending on the event to fundraiser or fulfill their mission because in turn it helps to fulfill ours by serving more of our community!
What special events is your park agency known for? Please describe each one.
We are known for our Farmers Market which is year round and we have upwards of 60 vendors. We are also known for our JUKO, Just Us Kids Outdoors, Program that is a FREE Summer Day Camp we provide most of the summer and offer Free lunch, pool time, field trips and outdoor activities to build up our area youth. We are also known for our Outdoor Movies that happens in June and again in August FREE for our community. We also have several community members that love our Family Series Events or Get Healthy in Our Park Series Events.
What do you see for the future of your park agency? What are your goals?
We just finished our Park Comprehensive Master Plan and we are working through all of the long list of projects that are a priority to our community. It is our hopes that we will be able to replace our Flagship playground in the next few years as well as our aging Splash Pad. My goals are using relating to the team. I want our Park Team to feel appreciated. I want them to feel value in their job. If they feel this and can have PRIDE in what they do that will show in their work and also be highlighted in our parks for the community. Additionally, I would love to fill all open positions so that our team will have the man power they need. Lastly, update equipment and provide rotating capital equipment and fleet needs to allow our Park Team to have the best since that is what they are!
Why do you choose to be a member of the Indiana Park and Recreation Association? How long have you been a member?
I choose to be a member of IPRA because of the support the State Association gives our agencies. IPRA works hard to find creative ways to help all of us be successful! They provide encouragement when we need it most, awesome publications, and strive to make sure our field is looked at a professional and sought after opportunity. Our agency has been a member for over 5 years!
How has your experience with IPRA benefited your park agency? What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your membership?
The experience I have had with IPRA has always been beneficial from the conference to the virtual sessions. Most importantly they care! They care about our agencies and how we are doing. I was able to serve on the IPRA Board from 2020-2021 as the Natural Resources Trails and Greenways Representative. This was a very enjoyable experience and allowed me to focus energy back to trails and greenways throughout our state. I was able to host the Trails Gathering right here in Richmond where many came from near and far to see our trails and our city. The IPRA Staff works with each Board Representative to accomplish their goals and they do so much to make sure each event including the amazing conference goes seamless!
Please tell us any additional information you would like to be included in your feature.
Our city is small but mighty and worth a trip! So come on over to Richmond Indiana! I also want to highlight that Parks and Rec can be a thankless job and very overwhelming at times if you take it too seriously or personal. Remember why you wanted to be in your role and never forget the difference you make in your community. At the end of the day, Parks are providing the destination, Parks are providing the opportunity for memories that last a lifetime. Parks do make a difference in everyone’s lives!