Mark Jones, Director of the City of Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, stands with Mayor Kristen Brown and Parks and Recreation Board Members Angie Macy, Amy Kleinert, Dave Jones and Jennifer Carroll in Council Chambers at City Hall after the board unanimously approved him as Mayor Brown's appointment.
Mayor Kristen Brown has appointed Mark Jones, a veteran leader of the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, as the department’s new Director.
Jones has served within the Parks and Recreation Department for 18 years, most recently as Director of Sports Programs and Athletic Facilities. His appointment was approved unanimously by the City of Columbus Parks and Recreation Board at a special meeting at 4:00 p.m. Monday, July 28, in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
“Mark is exceedingly well qualified to lead and advance our Parks and Recreation Department,” Mayor Kristen Brown said. “He deeply appreciates and understands our outstanding parks and parks facilities, and he has a wealth of experience managing facilities and athletic fields and developing productive relationships with the Parks Department’s user groups and partner organizations.”
As Director of Parks and Recreation, Jones will manage the City’s nationally renowned parks and parks facilities. The City operates over 245 adult and youth programs annually and maintains and manages over 1,000 acres of land, 23 parks, multiple facilities comprising 250,000 square feet under roof, three golf courses and several miles of People Trails.
Jones’ top priority will be the continued improvement of existing parks and parks facilities. Under Mayor Brown’s administration, the City has injected more than $4 million into the restoration and preservation of invaluable parks facilities, reversing years of deterioration and ensuring that today’s and future generations can benefit from and enjoy them. This work has included updates and enhancements to Hamilton Center, Donner Center, Wigh Soccer Complex at Blackwell Park, and four neighborhood parks that anchor their surrounding residential areas.
Other priorities for Jones include the continued improvement in grounds maintenance, identifying additional operational efficiencies and cost savings and increased customer responsiveness by delivering diverse programming that meets the needs of the community and by providing exceptional customer service.
“Our community benefits from exceptional parks facilities and programming,” Jones said. “I look forward to working with Mayor Brown and the Parks and Recreation Board to continue building upon and further improving our parks system.”
Jones has served as Director of Sports Programs & Athletic Facilities since 2010. In that role, his responsibilities have included managing the Parks Department’s sports programs and athletic facilities, including Hamilton Center Ice Arena, Lincoln Park and its six softball fields, Clifty Park’s nine baseball fields and four softball fields, and the Wigh Soccer Complex and its 34 fields. A wide range of groups use these facilities including Express soccer, Columbus Youth Soccer, Columbus Softball Association, Babe Ruth Baseball, Columbus Youth Hockey, Lincoln Center Figure Skating Club, Elite Speedskating and broomball.
His responsibilities also included scheduling major sports tournaments and preparing the playing fields accordingly. As such, Jones has been instrumental in the city’s sports tourism efforts which generate about $10 million a year in tourism spending.
Jones began his career with the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department in 1996 and has developed through the ranks within the department. He has gained experience in budgeting, capital projects and project management, fundraising, community relations, maintenance and operations, programming and sports tournaments.
Jones has a bachelor’s degree in physical education and recreation from Franklin College and has completed the Indiana University Executive Development Program. He has earned the City’s Parks and Recreation Department national awards for complex of the year multiple times, including in 2013.
His professional memberships include the Indiana Park and Recreation Association, the National Recreation and Park Association, the Sports Turf Managers Association, Sports Indiana and the National Youth Sports Coaches Association. Jones is a graduate of Leadership Bartholomew County, a member of Columbus Young Professionals, and was the recipient of a “40 under 40” award in 2007.