By David Markham
The new chair of the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners believes JCPRD has a lot to be proud of.
“Our facilities and services are stitched into the lives of our community,” said Bob Carlson of Overland Park, who was recently elected as the board’s chair for 2023. “Youth sports, hiking, summer camps, after school programs, the museum, summer camps, Theater in the Park, exercise classes, picnics, trail use, boating, fishing, disc golf, summer jobs, senior’s programs, etc., etc. …. we are making people happier, healthier, and more active. Our approval ratings from recent county-wide surveys are consistently the highest-rated part of county government. I am also very proud that we are very financially responsible, our finances are very solid, and we are great stewards of public money.”
As to his goals for the coming year, Carlson said he is looking forward to the completion of a process which began in 2022 to update JCPRD’s long-range strategic plan.
“The original Legacy Plan, which was completed in 2015, has provided us a comprehensive framework for managing our resources,” he said. “It has been a guiding light for the overall direction of JCPRD. The plan has proven to be an incredible tool that has been very useful. While the plan was written as a 15-year look ahead, much has happened since its adoption and it is wise to be revisiting the plan - plans are meant to reevaluated as conditions change. The original document was very well done and it is important to note that this effort is an “update,” not a “do over.” The plan, when completed, will give us an updated guide for the future of JCPRD.”
Carlson was first appointed to the fourth district seat on the JCPRD board in 2019. He has been a licensed architect since 1989, and has more than 33 years of experience as an architect for, as well as a principal in, the firm of DLR Group. Since 1990, Carlson has focused primarily on sports facilities, including professional, minor league, and community facilities. One example is JCPRD’s New Century Fieldhouse near Gardner, where he was the lead designer of the 2011 project which converted an 88,000-square-foot warehouse at the New Century AirCenter into a state-of-the-art indoor sports facility. He holds both a bachelor of science and a master’s degree in architecture, both from the University of Nebraska, and is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and a LEED - (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited professional.
The new chair said he has enjoyed his time on JCPRD board.
“I have great respect for my fellow board members, we work well together, and each have unique expertise and points of view that we bring to the board,” he said. “It is a fun group of people to get to know and to work with. We all share a passion for the district and great respect for the staff that make this all happen.”