Connie Edmonston / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer
Connie Edmonston, director of Fayetteville’s parks and recreation department, plans to retire this month after 35 years with the city. Her last day is Friday, July 9.
Chief of Staff Susan Norton said she is currently working on a revised job description for the position, which will soon be posted. In the interim, Norton will delegate responsibilities to the three department superintendents. Ted Jack will handle parks planning, Lee Farmer will take care of recreation duties, and Byron Humphries will oversee maintenance.
A celebration honoring Edmonston will be held from 1:30-3:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 8 at the Fayetteville Town Center. The public is invited to attend.
Edmonston began working for the city as an administrative assistant in 1982 before becoming assistant director of parks and recreation. After leaving the city to work for Washington Regional for four years, she returned in 1998 as parks and recreation director in a role she served for 23 years.
Throughout her time, she has seen more than 1,700 acres of parkland and 40 park properties added to Fayetteville’s parks system, including Kessler Mountain Regional Park, Centennial Park at 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 at Bryce Davis Park and Lewis Avenue Soccer Complex.
Edmonston said she’s overseen a lot throughout her career, but credited many others for helping make it all happen.
“The projects and programs that were achieved during my time with the city were all made possible because of outstanding parks and recreation staff, the mayor, city administration, our Parks Advisory Board, City Council and of course, our remarkable residents.”
Edmonston served on the city’s first Trails Committee, was an advocate for building soft- and hard-surface trails around Lake Fayetteville, and helped developed the city’s first adopted trails plan. She started several initiatives, including the Park Volunteer, Adopt-A-Park and Memorial Bench programs and helped launch the Lake Fayetteville Environmental Youth Camp, summer day camps and the Outdoor Fayetteville programs.
As an active volunteer, she has served on the United Community Service board of directors, Salvation Army Advisory Board, 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 contributed to the association’s ethics and by-laws committees.
She has also received several awards recognizing her contributions to the community, including the City of Fayetteville Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Brotherhood award in 2009, and Ramay Jr. High’s Outstanding Volunteer Award in 1999.
Mayor Lioneld Jordan said he’s grateful for Edmonston’s contributions to the city.
“Connie has worked diligently for the past three decades to help make sure everyone in Fayetteville has access to fun, safe and healthy outdoor opportunities,” Jordan said. “She leaves behind an impressive legacy of growing and enhancing our parks, green spaces and outdoor recreation programs.”
Edmonston said she will stay in Fayetteville after she retires. She said she and her husband will continue riding bikes across Northwest Arkansas while also enjoying bike vacations throughout the country and beyond. She said he also plans to spend more time with family and friends and serve the community and her church.