New Parks & Rec director speaks to Danville Rotary

Published 8:54 pm Wednesday, June 5, 2019


Danville Rotary

The incoming Director of Parks and Recreation, John Bell, spoke to Rotarians on May 31.  He began by sharing his 25 years of work experience, covering facility management, athletic supervision, and director of parks and recreation for four different agencies. Bell characterized his concept of the job as, “Make Danville and Boyle County a better place to live, work and play every day.”

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Before Bell interviewed for the position, he interviewed the community. Rather than being interviewed by phone, which was the selection committee’s intent, he chose to drive over from St. Louis and get a feel for the facilities, resources and priorities of the people in the community. “The job had to work for me, but the community had to work for my wife of 26 years and our two children.”

Bell began his career helping to developing a master plan for the city of Bridgeton in the northwest suburb of St. Lucie County Missouri. The project encompassed developing an outdoor Athletic Complex and refurbishing a Recreation Center built in 1974. Eighteen years later, Bell accepted a position of assistant director in St. Louis County, for a community of about 30,000 people. His task was to develop a master plan that included building a 98,000 square feet recreation facility. 

During his interview for the job in Danville/Boyle County, Bell was asked what he wanted to accomplish if he took the position. After thinking for a minute he responded, “I think the first thing I need to do is learn about horses, because I think they are a big deal here.”  After learning about horses, Bell wants to learn what the community wants from their parks and recreation facilities. “That’s what will drive me.”

When asked what ideas he will bring to the job, he has responded that he is sorry to disappoint anyone who is looking for outside ideas, but he believes the best service he can provide is to learn what the community wants and then make it happen.  We are here to serve the public through management of the parks’ programs and facilities.”