Parks & Recreation Department

Wednesday, October 12 - Parks & Recreation Department 

The Parks & Recreation Department has certainly grown over the years since Heath Ellis began managing programs and overseeing Pleasant Hill’s City parks. In 2002, Heath accepted his position because he saw tremendous potential for park development and truly enjoys caring for the natural world and developing spaces for people to relax, recreate, share common experiences and create memories.

In 2002, Heath was the only staff person managing a dozen recreational programs and 50 acres of parkland. As you can imagine this was a bit overwhelming and four years later, additional staff was hired. Today, the Parks & Recreation Department employs a Parks & Recreation Supervisor, Recreation Manager, one full-time labor/operator and two seasonal employees. While their staff has grown, so has the amount of items they maintain - 300 acres of parks, trails and greenways. 

When Heath first began, the City’s annual budget for park development was $20,000 and there were only four City parks. This may have seemed like a lot of money back then, but the money was solely used for new playground equipment. The goal was to add new equipment at Sunrise Park, but the cost of playground equipment is extremely expensive and it took nearly two years at a cost of $40,000. 

To ensure our parks and trails continue to be a place where residents want to spent their free time, we budget to ensure appropriate renovations are made. The city’s average budget for park improvements has steadily increased to over the last 14 years and it is evident by the number of improvements that have been made since then.

Entrance to Copper Creek Lake Park in 2002

CCLP Entrance 2002

Entrance to Copper Creek Lake Park today. As you can see, Heath has made significant improvements to the aesthetics.

CCLP Entrance 2016
Heath has always enjoyed his job with the City and certainly has a passion for what he does. When he first began his career, the topography and natural areas within the community always amazed him. He appreciates Pleasant Hill’s location and the small town appeal that it still has today. 

When he first started, Bob Fagan was City Manager and during his fourteen years, he has worked for five Mayors. He has certainly seen quite a few changes, especially within the parks department. Fourteen years ago, the Youth Center was basically a concrete bunker with no windows and two doors. At the time it served its purpose, but had several structural and mechanical issues and residents renting the facility for events would often complain about the condition. To ensure this was a place the community would continue to use, Heath made it a priority to get the electrical and mechanical replaced within the building along with improvements to the buildings structure. The interior and entrance of the building was remodeled and the entire building received new landscaping. 

Front of the Youth Center prior to the renovations

Youth Center Entrance 2002

Side of the building prior to landscaping

Youth Center Landscaping 2002

View of the front of Youth Center and landscaping

Youth Center Entrance 2016
Since 2002, Copper Creek Lake and Oak Hill Park’s have both been developed to what visitors enjoy today. The first section of the Youngstown Trail has been installed and a new 77-acre park has been purchased and the master plan is nearing completion.  Citizens can expect more exciting developments in the years to come and Heath is excited to put his expertise to work.  In addition to his park management and development responsibilities Heath is the city’s forester. As a certified Arborist, Heath continually strives to improve the city’s public and private trees by providing instructional workshops and promoting tree distribution programs.