Forty-four years after it all began, Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation Director Mark McHenry is calling it a career.
The Parks and Recreation department announced McHenry’s retirement, which is effective at the end of 2018, in a September 12 press release. Parks and Rec Deputy Director Terry Rynard will take over as Director beginning on January 1, 2019.
According to the press release, McHenry oversaw the addition of 34 parks, the construction of six community centers, the creation of the World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, exponential growth at the Kansas City Zoo and the revitalization of Starlight Theatre during his more than four-decade tenure.
In the Historic Northeast, McHenry oversaw the transfer of the Kansas City Museum into Parks and Recreation control, while also being involved with improvement projects at Kessler Park and Independence Plaza Park, the renovation of the Independence and Benton intersection, continued investments in and around Cliff Drive, and much more.
McHenry also spearheaded modernization efforts such as the implementation of Citizen Satisfaction surveys and a shift into the digital era, personified by the department’s embrace of social media.
The retirement announcement included details about McHenry’s early years in the department, such as repairing fiberglass kangaroos at Penguin Park and cutting logs for the Shoal Creek Living History Museum. In retirement, McHenry will devote time to cycling even more miles on Kansas City’s boulevards and trails, traveling, enjoying more family time and continuing his service on several parks-related boards.
Over the past five years, McHenry has embraced a mentorship role with Rynard, a life-long Kansas City resident who at age 16 worked in the summer a weed whipper, “one of three young women who worked hard to prove that they could mow faster and carry more sod rolls than the boys.”
Rynard has been a full-time employee of the KCMO Parks and Recreation department since 1987, with jobs titles including equipment operation, area superintendent and assistant park superintendent.
Go to www.kcparks.org for more information about McHenry, Rynard or Parks and Recreation projects in your neighborhood.