EDMOND — Edmond's new parks and recreation director, Craig Dishman, wants to get children outdoors and enjoying more exercise.
“I want to update the playground equipment where kids will have to use more muscles,” Dishman said. “I want equipment that requires more skills. Kids need to be healthier.”
He has been on the job three months, replacing former park director Jim Bowlin, who resigned in December after seven years to take a job in Pflugerville, Texas.
Dishman, who has 18 years' experience in the parks and recreation industry, oversees Edmond's 26 parks, Pelican Bay Aquatic Center, eight sports complexes, the cemetery, seven trails covering 14 miles throughout the city and six trails at Arcadia Lake. He also manages about 25 full-time employees and a number of seasonal workers.
Dishman said he wants to refurbish some park equipment that has weathered in the sun and has had heavy use. One area he has in mind is at J.L. Mitch Park near the now-under-construction $22.5 million competitive swimming pool and recreation center.
Dishman, the father of daughters ages 9 and 4, would like to see some shade added to some of the playground areas.
He doesn't have any immediate changes planned for the department or the programs it offers throughout the year. Dishman said he wants to get other people involved in the discussions about what Edmond's parks and recreation need.
“I would like to have an option for kids from the traditional day camps,” Dishman said. “I think different types of outdoor activities and classes would be a great alternative.
“I would like to do things that are creative and get kids outdoors. I am excited about the potential at Arcadia Lake.”
Dishman, 42, will be working with YMCA officials to coordinate programs the city offers through the parks and recreation department and those offered by the YMCA at the new recreation center next door to the Multipurpose Activity Center in Mitch Park.
“It is important that we work together on what programs they offer and what programs we offer,” Dishman said. “We will find out what our niche will be and not compete.”
Development of the city's newest community park and softball complex, Edmond 66 Park, is exciting to Dishman, who comes to Edmond from Mesquite, Texas, where he had been recreation services superintendent since 2006.
“I like green spaces where you can have a picnic with the family and fly a kite or have a nice place to sit and enjoy nature,” he said.
His ultimate vision is for Edmond to have a premier parks and recreation system.
“I like to have a strategic business plan,” Dishman said. “I like things to be on paper so it tells me where we are going.
“We have a great staff, and I feel like we are all on the same page.”