Suffolk’s loss in parks and rec

Published 10:12 pm Friday, June 8, 2018

Suffolk’s Department of Parks and Recreation director recently announced she’ll leave to accept a similar position in Richland County, S.C. — and it’s Suffolk’s loss.

In her more than 24-year career in Suffolk, Watson has parlayed a part-time job she took to get herself through college into a full-time job and then into a professional career as the director of Parks and Recreation.

The department has grown by leaps and bounds during Watson’s leadership. The department has opened new buildings and facilities, started new events, and serves more people than when she started. The department now reaches out to the community with surveys and other public input measures to get the public’s thoughts on the types of facilities, events and activities that would fit well in their lives.

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Watson said this week that her favorite accomplishment during her time as director was renovating and opening the East Suffolk Recreation Center. The repurposed East Suffolk High School building now features a workout room, gymnasium, rooms for senior programming and of course a tribute to the former school and its alumni and faculty. The building is quite a jewel and hosts thousands of Suffolk residents each year for large events or just for their daily workout.

Watson also named the national accreditation of her department as one of her bigger accomplishments.

Of course, none of it happened alone. She noted City Council and city administration support for parks and recreation projects, as well as the hard work of her own staff, as part of the reason for success.

In Richland County, Watson will be responsible for overseeing dozens of facilities, including a golf course, community centers, parks, walking trails, sports complexes, a boat ramp, a tennis center and more.

Suffolk’s loss, it seems, will be a gain for Richland County, which is sorely in need of fresh, new leadership for its recreation commission.

We are certain Watson will be a welcome addition to Richland County and wish her well. It’s our hope that her replacement here in Suffolk will be just as dedicated.