With July being National Parks and Recreation Month, this week we feature Chuck Jennings, the parks and recreation director for the town of Flower Mound. Jennings has worked for the town for 12.5 years and has been key in several of the town's parks amenities residents enjoy today.
Where did you grow up and go to school?
I lived in New Orleans the first nine years of my life and then moved to north Dallas and graduated from JJ Pearce High School before moving to Bloomington, Indiana to attend Indiana University.
What are your responsibilities as parks and recreation director?
As the director, I am responsible for the oversight and operations of our department, which has a total budget of over $8 million annually. The department consists of: 56 parks, 1,000 acres of parkland, recreational facilities such as the Community Activity Center, Senior Center and Twin Coves RV Park/Campground, sport complexes – Bakersfield Park, Chinn Chapel Soccer Complex, Gerault Park and Jake’s Hilltop Park and 60 miles of multipurpose trail. It also includes over 50 miles of median and rights-of-way, adult and youth athletics, community-wide special events like Independence Fest, the Christmas Parade, Easter Egg Scramble and Concerts in the Park, and recreational programming.
We manage all of this with an incredible team of professional and talented employees that take pride in what they do each day. The department consists of 46 full-time, 61 part-time, 82 seasonal employees and over 40 independent contractors. I also work very closely with the town’s construction manager, parks, trails and landscape specialist and park development manager to master plan, design, build and acquire new parks for our residents.
Lastly, I serve as the staff representative for the Parks Board and Community Development Corporation. These two citizen boards support our department and help provide guidance with policies, park planning, volunteer recruitment, programming, as well as many others.
What accomplishment from you and your staff are you most proud of?
We have been blessed with the resources to do some pretty great things here in Flower Mound. It is very close between the opening of the CAC (11 years ago) and the completion of Heritage Park. Both of these projects have enabled us the opportunity to expand what we can provide for the residents. If you visit either location today, you will be amazed at how many people are enjoying the different amenities and activities these two places have to offer.
What makes Flower Mound's parks system top notch?
I like working for a community that pushes us to design, build and maintain high quality parks and trails. With over 56 parks and 60 plus miles of hike and bike trails, there is something for everyone! From the senior center to themed playgrounds to the bronze sculptures in Heritage Park to activities on the lake … I encourage people to take time this month (July is Park & Recreation Month) to explore their park system and all we have to offer.
What amenity or program would you like to see come to the town that's not already here?
The tennis community has been asking for a tennis center since I started back in 2007. I think we can provide a top notch center in the near future that will meet the needs of the community and bring in out of town guests to help fuel the local economy.
What upcoming amenities/programs should residents look forward to in the near future?
I’m very excited about constructing Canyon Falls Park out west and renovating Rheudasil Park next fiscal year.
How did you get into parks and recreation?
Being a competitive swimmer, I naturally enjoyed being around aquatic facilities and wanted to learn more about how they operate. As soon as I could start working, I took a job as a lifeguard with the city of Richardson. After many summers working for the city and swimming in countless pools and facilities around the country, I pursued a degree in the parks and recreation field at Indiana University. My senior year internship was with Texas Instruments providing recreational activities for their employees and this helped open up doors, which eventually led me here to Flower Mound.
Talk about your time as a swimmer.
As I mentioned earlier, competitive swimming was my main sport from when I was 8 until I finished my senior year in college for IU. I was fortunate to have been able to swim under the legendary coach James “Doc” Counsilman for one year. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything that taught me how to be self-motivated and goal oriented.
What is your favorite parks and rec activity to participate in now?
Walking the trail system and anything to do with the lake.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love spending time with my beautiful wife Holly (who I met at IU) and our two boys Tyler and Kenny. I enjoy boating, hunting, traveling and hanging out by the pool.
Who's your favorite team, and how will they do this year?
While I love my Cowboys, I think I have to say the Dallas Mavericks. Growing up in the '80s in Dallas, I attended many games and got to see some great Mavs teams. My wife and I attend multiple games every year and hope with the new additions to compliment Luka, the Mavs can be a playoff team again!
I would have to say the Big German …That Dude – Dirk Nowitzki. His loyalty to one team and what he meant to our city speaks volumes. But what I truly like is how he has used his stature to better the world by working with children or the disadvantaged, regardless of praise or people even realizing it happened.