City park outreach coordinator embraces the possibilities
NEW PORT RICHEY - The memorabilia on Kristen King's desk reflects her mission as the newly hired events and community outreach coordinator for the New Port Richey Parks and Recreation Department. "With enough coffee, I can do anything," proclaims a gag message on an enormous coffee cup that holds a roll of paper towels and knick-knacks. She points to a placard with her favorite inspirational quote from poet Emily Dickinson: "Dwell on possibility." v vThe city's award-winning parks and recreation facilities make her new job easy, King said. To her, the possibilities seem endless."If you see it, you just fall in love with it," King said of the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center at 6630 Van Buren Street. "When you look at the pools, it almost looks like a theme park," King said. She marvels at the scenic beauty of other city parks and recreation areas, such as the Grey Preserve. v vFor New Port Richey officials, however, there aren't enough people availing themselves of the city's parks and other recreation facilities - possibly because they don't know they exist. King intends to change that, drawing on her years of experience as executive director of Chasco Fiesta, a community celebration organized by the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce. King started her job with the city a few weeks ago, but she already has six goals in mind, with notes she scribbled on a dry-erase board: monthly newsletter, surveys, videos, public service announcements, a comment box and birthday parties. King also wants to bolster the department's Facebook page to communicate information about park operations and closings. She has been poring over a 74-page report with recommendations from consulting firm Ballard and King. "We already started implementing some things," King said. v vThe city department formed partnerships with Pasco County and the city of Port Richey to entice visitors from other areas. . A Chick-fil-A franchisee is now operating the concession stand at the recreation center. Summer camp is full with 170 participants and a waiting list. Among camp highlights: an upcoming trip to Legoland. In August, the city will host the Cotee Man Triathlon and the Night in the Tropics street festival, which King wants to help cross-promote. Becoming an evangelist, of sorts, for the city department, King wants to speak more often before community groups. For instance, she might speak at a Weight Watchers group about health and wellness opportunities. Another long-term goal is to expand the lap pool to eight lanes to lure more tournaments. King acknowledges there are challenges ahead. v vWhen relaxing on her own time, King works with the Pit Bull Crew dog rescue group. She is fostering a dog, Rango, right now. "They're really sweet," she said. "They're just misunderstood." She's also big into recycling. Most important, she said, she enjoys spending time with her two sons, John, 12, and Anthony, 10.