Bargersville’s first parks director brings expertise

Bargersville’s first parks and recreation director is someone who has almost two decades of experience in the field.

Kris Wilson spent 17 years building the parks and recreation department in Mooresville, which only offered programs for children in the summer as they had no indoor facilities when she started in 2006.

“We had a small community pool, some walking trails and summer camps, and then I created our before and after school program, which is now at five elementary schools in Mooresville. It’s more of a year-round operation with full-time staff,” Wilson said. “We try to reach out and build those connections in the community to see what they want and try to provide those resources for them.”

Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in recreation and sports management from Indiana University and master’s degree in athletic administration from Ball State University. She also worked in campus recreation at the University of Pennsylvania before starting her job in Mooresville, where she served as the parks department’s assistant superintendent for 16 years before being promoted to superintendent last year, she said.

“I’m originally from Lake Forest, Illinois and my father was the executive director of parks and recreation for 40-something years. I grew up in parks and rec and I truly saw its roots and development. I’m familiar with it,” Wilson said.

At the University of Pennsylvania, she spearheaded a move to build a new facility for campus recreation, one that was able to accommodate students from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. each day, she said.

“Whether at the university level or in a municipality, it’s about providing communities and individuals experiences and allowing people to do the things they love, which has really drawn me,” Wilson said. “I think it’s important to love what you do and that’s how I’ve gotten where I’m at.”

Wilson arrives in Bargersville Monday as the town’s first parks and recreation director during a pivotal time in its developmental history.

Kephart Park, a $3.5 million, six-acre park at County Road 144 and Saddle Club Road is set to open in the late spring or early summer, The park will feature a splash pad, pickleball courts, restrooms, an area for grilling, a trail and playground equipment. As part of a fiber internet expansion with Metronet and Johnson County Fiber, Kephart Park will be the first in Bargersville with WiFi.

It is the most ambitious park project for Bargersville so far, and only marks the beginning of town leaders’ plans for the future, Town Manager Dan Cartwright said.

“We’re just now starting to have a real parks department and an active parks board. It’s a good opportunity for her to get on the ground floor of the development of parks and the parks department, and with her experience, that’s what was so attractive to us regarding her,” he said.

As parks and recreation director, Wilson will monitor Kephart Park’s construction, completion and opening with part-time seasonal helpers who will assist her through the summer. She will also be in charge of organizing events related to the parks and planning future development included in the town’s five-year parks and recreation master plan that covers 2022 to 2026, Cartwright said.

“We plan on more parks, we plan on more trails, we have a five-year plan and there’s a lot to do,” he said. “We’re looking forward to potentially having a real true community center that might include sports activities. It’s a long-term goal that’s part of the overall parks plan.”