Fayetteville Parks and Recreation director Connie Edmonston to retire

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Connie Edmonston / Photo by Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Connie Edmonston, director of the parks and recreation division of Fayetteville, plans to retire this month after 35 years with the city. Your last day is Friday, July 9th.

Chief of Staff Susan Norton said she was currently working on a revised job description for the position, which will be released shortly. In the meantime, Norton will delegate responsibility to the three department heads. Ted Jack takes care of park planning, Lee Farmer takes care of recreational activities, and Byron Humphries takes care of maintenance.

A celebration in honor of Edmonston will be held in downtown Fayetteville on Thursday, July 8th, from 1.30pm to 3.30pm. The public is invited to do so.

Edmonston began working for the city as an administrative assistant in 1982 before becoming assistant director of parks and recreation. After leaving town to work for Washington Regional for four years, she returned to the Park and Recreation Director in 1998, where she served 23 years.

Throughout her time, she has seen more than 1,700 acres of parkland and 40 park lots added to the Fayetteville park system, including Kessler Mountain Regional Park, Centennial Park on Millsap Mountain, Gulley Park and its 10 acre extension, Mount Sequoyah Woods, Walker Park North, Grinders Skate Park, Brooks Hummel Nature Preserve, Iams Dog Park in Bryce Davis Park and Lewis Avenue Soccer Complex.

Edmonston said she oversaw a lot throughout her career but credited many others for helping make it all happen.

“The projects and programs that were implemented during my time with the city were all made possible by the excellent park and leisure staff, the mayor, the city administration, our park advisory board, the city council and of course our notable residents.”

Edmonston was a member of the city’s first Trails Committee, campaigned for the construction of soft and hard trails around Lake Fayetteville, and helped develop the city’s first adopted trails plan. She launched several initiatives, including the Park Volunteer, Adopt-A-Park, and Memorial Bench programs, and helped start the Lake Fayetteville Environmental Youth Camp, Summer Day Camps, and the Outdoor Fayetteville programs.

As an active volunteer, she has served on the board of directors of the United Community Service, the Salvation Army Advisory Committee, the Washington County Red Cross Youth Service Board, and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Committee. She also served as treasurer and president of the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association and served on the association’s ethics and bylaws committees.

She has also received several awards recognizing her service to the community, including the City of Fayetteville Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Brotherhood Award in 2009 and the Ramay Jr. High’s Outstanding Volunteer Award in 1999.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan said he was grateful for Edmonston’s contributions to the city.

“Connie has worked diligently for the past three decades to ensure everyone in Fayetteville has access to fun, safe, and healthy outdoor opportunities,” said Jordan. “It leaves an impressive legacy of growing and improving our parks, green spaces and outdoor recreational programs.”

Edmonston said she would stay in Fayetteville after retiring. She said she and her husband would continue to cycle through northwest Arkansas while enjoying cycling vacations across the country and beyond. She said he also plans to spend more time with family and friends, and serve the community and their church.