Parks & Recreation

General Fund & Special Revenue Fund

Department Description

The Kalamazoo Department of Parks and Recreation's goal is to enhance the quality of urban life by providing safe, well-maintained parks and offering quality, affordable programs and events for the community.

Vision – Beautiful parks, quality recreation, and memorable events

The entire community benefits as a result of recreation programs, special events, and parks as they all help us develop better citizens. How adolescents spend their leisure time undoubtedly impacts their developmental trajectory. As such, a focal point of examination for those in the fields of youth development and delinquency prevention is how adolescents spend their leisure time after school. Miller (2003) reminds us that the most influential experiences of youth are often the people, places, and activities that occur outside of school.

Accordingly, "after school programs can play a key role in engaging youth in the learning process by providing opportunities to explore interests, gain competency in real world skills, solve problems, assume leadership roles, develop a group identity with similarly engaged peers, connect to adult role models and mentors, and become involved in improving their communities. "Kzoo Parks provides many opportunities for youth during out of school time, including After School sites, youth sports programs, summer camps, and the All Things Possible program. In 2022 the department has partnered with Public Safety to provide Police Athletic Leagues. The PAL league offers numerous sports and structured educational and social development activities. The goal of the program is to prevent juvenile crime and violence by building relationships among youth and young adults.

Living in a playful city brings the community together with programs, activities, and special events that focus on youth and families. Recreation programs that engage youth and families and provide the opportunity for play is one strategy that helps individuals establish a sense of community and belonging. These programs also attract citizens across generations, which is also key in the growth and development of youth.

Special events like Summer Cinema, Halloween Forest, Tree Lighting Ceremony, Winter Golf, Flurry of Fun, Bike Rodeo, Bark in the Park, and Egg Hunt bring adults back to the joys of childhood and help children develop a sense of fun within our diverse community. Fun is key in the development of a caring and strong community. Lunchtime Live is one of several events that makes a positive impact on the local economy by providing a regular location for food trucks to operate.

Learn more about Kzoo Parks by visiting their webpage at

Park and Facility Services

Park Division staff provides expertise for the care, maintenance, and safety of the department’s parks and facilities. The division also oversees the care and maintenance of the system’s fleet and park maintenance equipment. Additional areas of responsibility include contract management, park improvement project management, special event logistical support, and park security.

The 33 parks and 5 facilities maintained represent 22,000 hours of tasks that need to be completed annually. Tasks include trash/litter/debris removal, restroom cleaning, planting flowers, preparing and weeding flower beds at gateways, irrigation repair, fence repair, tree pruning, leaf removal, snow removal, pool maintenance, playground equipment inspection and repair, athletic field turf management, and facility repairs. The division has 9 FTE and utilizes 15-20 seasonal staff to maintain the parks and facilities.

Recreation Services

The Recreation Division provides the expertise to create, develop and administer affordable recreational, cultural, educational, and leisure opportunities to benefit and enhance the lives of City residents. The division oversees recreation operations, including the youth development center, Station 5, Kik Pool, recreation programs, educational, and interpretive programming; use and event permitting.

Youth development is a priority for the Recreation division, with staff focused on providing opportunities for youth to enhance their interests, skills and abilities through after school programs, summer camp, and programs like All Things Possible and Summer Youth Employment. Youth engaged in recreation programs (after school) are far less likely to have contact with police and are far more likely to demonstrate positive behaviors in and out of school. The division has 6 FTE and utilizes nearly 15 temporary staff year-round that balloons close to 90 during the summer months.

The Farmers’ Market is also part of the Recreation Division’s responsibility. The market is operated by the People’s Food Co-op currently and operates from May through late November. The market attracts on average over 4,500 people each weekend and provides a market for over 100 vendors.

Core Services

Quality park facilities that provide:

  • High quality, safe, accessible, clean and well-maintained facilities with equipment that meets current park standards
  • Timely repairs of facilities and equipment
  • Well-landscaped and sustainable grounds
  • Capital improvement projects that meet the needs and desires of citizens
  • Priority facilities include City Hall grounds, Bronson Park, Mayors’ Riverfront Park, Kik Pool, Youth Development Center, Station #5 Community Center, Versluis-Dickinson Park, MLK Park, Rose Park Veteran’s Memorial and the Bank Street Farmers’ Market
  • Rental opportunities – Park Pavilions, Sports Fields, etc.

Quality recreation programs that include:

  • Youth development programming – educational, sport instruction, health & wellness, fitness and cultural
  • Kik pool – swim lessons, open swim and special events
  • Community special events – Halloween Forest, Lunchtime Live!, Egg Hunt, Summer Cinema Series, Winter Golf, Flurry of Fun, Bark in the Park, Teen Events, and Tree Lighting Ceremony
  • Summer playgrounds – Summer Camps, Super Rec, and All Things Possible middle school camp
  • Partnerships – Greater Kalamazoo Arts Council, Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Kalamazoo Friends of Recreation, United Healthcare, Schupan and Sons, Charles River Laboratory
  • Adult sports – by partnering with Best Damn Sports and Social Club the department is able to offer softball and volleyball leagues

Department Goals

Goal: Increase Parks Use

Objectives: Increase the percentage of pavilion reservations completed online

Action Plan: Implement new software, CivicRec, and market the ability to make online reservations

Metrics: Prior to new software implementation, we have not been able to track online reservations. The goal for 2023 is to have 40% of all pavilion reservations completed online.

Alignment with Strategic Vision: Good Governance

Goal: Increase Youth Programming

Objectives: Increase capacity for summer camp programs (All Things Possible, Camp Kzoo, and SuperRec)

Action Plan: Hire staff at competitive rates and secure locations that allow for additional campers considering Covid policies

Metrics: 205 campers were served in 2022; the goal for 2023 is 245

Alignment with Strategic Vision: Youth Development

Department Positions

Department Positions by Year

Department Expenditures - General Fund

Expenditures by Type - General Fund

Department Expenditures - All Funds

Parks & Recreation - All Funds

In addition to the General Fund, the Parks and Recreation department manages several programs that have resources from grants, donations, or other dedicated funding sources. Below is the department total by fund.

Parks & Recreation - Expenditures by Fund