Meet Kansas City’s new director for its parks and recreation department

·1 min read

The Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department has a new director.

Chris Cotten was announced as the new director by the city on Thursday after the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners met Oct. 11 and unanimously voted to hire Cotten.

His hiring follows a national search process over the last three months after the previous director, Terry Rynard, retired in July. She was the first woman to serve in that role.

“We believe Chris Cotten will be an excellent leader for KC Parks operations, given his deep experience and skills developed while running parks systems in four other cities,” KC Parks Board President Jack Holland said in a news release.

Cotten will lead Kansas City’s park system of 221 parks, 10 community centers and 48 fountains.

He brings 16 years of experience as director in Salina, Kansas; Normal, Illinois; and Joplin and Harrisonville in Missouri.

In Salina, he oversaw the city’s large-scale plan for future development of its system. That included improving the athletic fields complex, redevelopment of a soccer facility, and construction and opening of the Salina Fieldhouse. That facility generated more than $6 million in economic impact, according to the news release the city put announcing Cotten’s hiring.

He also previously worked as the parks director in Joplin when the 2011 tornado struck. Cotten helped rebuild Joplin’s parks and an aquatic center.

Cotten, a certified parks and recreation professional, earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary and physical education from Drury University as well as a master of physical education with an emphasis in sport and leisure management.

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