Asheville Parks and Recreation Director Roderick Simmons will retire after 14 years with the City and 31 years in the parks and recreation profession. Peggy Rowe will serve as Interim Parks & Recreation Director while a search gets underway for his replacement.
Throughout his career, Simmons has taken an active role in innovative changes in the parks and recreation field. He was selected in 2007 as the fourth director to lead the department.
His vision was to establish a clear and sustainable direction for programs and services to guide the department’s efforts to enhance the community’s parks, recreation and cultural arts programs, services and facilities. He has worked to meet the needs of the organization as well as current and future residents. He was gratified at the outpouring of public support when City of Asheville voters approved a Parks & Recreation bond of $17 million in 2016.
“Roderick has shown a passion for service to this community and extended himself time and time again in innovative ways to improve the lives of our residents,” said City Manager Debra Campbell. “Partnering with Asheville City Schools to make our Recreations Centers available to students for distance learning during the pandemic is just one example.”
By focusing the department’s efforts on making improvements to older facilities before adding new ones, Simmons was able to increase the standard of quality throughout the inventory of Parks & Recreation facilities. He promoted a diversity of programs and services at the neighborhood level, providing a higher level of service for our communities.
He was an early adopter of implementing equity in service delivery and reengineered the department to support this effort. He developed the Parks & Recreation Department’s 2016 Equity Action Plan, the first one at the City of Asheville, and created the staff framework and philosophy to support its critical values.
Some of his other notable accomplishments include:
- Completion of Pack Square Park and Pavilion.
- Creating and executing the plan for $17 million in Parks bonds approved by Asheville voters. Many of these projects have been completed; some of them are larger and still in progress and they include:
- Ball field improvements
- Dr. Wesley Grant, Sr. Southside Center (Phase II)
- Expanded outdoor lighting at facilities
- Jake Rusher Park improvements
- Land acquisition
- Memorial Stadium/Mountainside Park improvements
- Montford Park Complex improvements
- Outdoor court improvements
- Playgrounds installations
- Richmond Hill Park restrooms and picnic facility installation
- Park acquisitions, including Richmond Hill Park with disc golf and mountain biking trails; 29-acre Beaucatcher Overlook Park (undeveloped); Jean Webb Park; 10-acre Haw Creek Park; and 7.9-acre Falconhurst natural area.
Established in 1954, the Asheville Parks & Recreation Department maintains 54 public parks, 6 miles of greenways, 11 community centers, numerous programs for youth, seniors and outdoor enthusiasts, a comprehensive athletics program, and many facilities that provide resources for a range of activities.