City of Shawnee Director of Operations James Bryce is stepping up opportunities for community interaction through the city's Parks and Recreation department, citing how a shift in bills has afforded him the ability to create a position for a program coordinator.

City of Shawnee Director of Operations James Bryce is stepping up opportunities for community interaction through the city's Parks and Recreation department, citing how a shift in bills has afforded him the ability to create a position for a program coordinator.

The role, filled by Rachel Monday, is designated to maintain facilities and create and schedule community activities throughout the year.

“Parks and Recreation is not something new to Shawnee, but it is something new now,” Bryce said. “It has stemmed from the pool and how well it's doing, plus the other two acquisitions made this past year — with funding improvements to the Municipal Auditorium, and now the community center that the YMCA used to lease — we lease it out ourselves.”

He said using the money the city was paying the YMCA makes Monday's position now possible.

Outside of the summer season, with swim team practices and meets — as well as popular events like Doggie Dip Day — the Splash Park the pool is quickly becoming a regular destination spot.

Recreation Manager Kerri Foster — who started out as the Aquatics Manager of the Splash at Woodland Veterans Park — and Monday make up the whole Parks and Rec team.

“We are working on a small scale to offer some fun and safe things to do around town, Foster said. “I hope in the next year or two we will have an actual calendar of events showcasing what there is to offer.”

She said the department will have programs year-round.

“We are starting very small, due to very limited resources and two employees, but heavily relying on local organizations to provide programs and events to the community,” she said. “Our goal is to work together instead of trying to do things alone.”

She said she has met with some very passionate leaders in the community that share the same objectives the city does.

“I am looking forward to what Shawnee will look like in five years,” she said. “I'm so very excited.”

Events and programs will be planned all over town, she said — every park, city building (municipal auditorium, community center) and even things out on the lake areas.

“As we set up procedures, pricing, goals and objectives for the department, we are hoping to continue to grow employee numbers as resources allow,” Foster said.

Events for local canine lovers — like Yappy Hour —have proven to be very successful.

Bryce said the first dog-friendly event the department planned yielded 54 people — and the second had 46.

“We would have been thrilled if just two had shown up,” he said. “The events have really exceeded our expectations.”

Bryce said the auditorium and community center also are beginning to see dates fill up with things like public movie nights, or rented out for birthdays, baby showers, karate and aerobics classes.

Encouraging participation, Bryce said his goal for public events is to keep entry costs free or to an absolute minimum.

In light of the warm reception by residents, expansion ideas are already making their way into future plans for the water park.

“We are very happy about (success with the Splash Park) pool, I can see that continuing on as we develop more things for the pool to do,” Bryce said.

In the Parks Plan, the city is designing a couple more party areas to go along with the pool.

“We only have one party room in there and we're selling more parties than we have room for,” he said. “We're putting them outside near the refreshment area for birthday parties.”

When funding comes through for that, Bryce said it will make a nice addition to the facility.

Some upcoming events

• Sept. 22 — Movie in the Park, 7:30 p.m. at KidSpace (free to attend)

• Sept. 23 — Doggie Dip Day, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Shawnee Splash ($5 entry per dog)

• Oct. 6 — Teen Talent Show, 7 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium ($10 to enter an act, $5 to attend)

• Oct. 13 — Friday the 13th Movie, 7 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium ($5 to attend)

• Oct. 19-21 — Boo on Bell

• Oct. 27 — Movie in the Park, 7 p.m. at Woodland Veterans Park (free to attend)

For more information, call (405) 275-3986 or visit the parks and recreation Facebook page at facebook.com/shawneepr.