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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Quality of life is the big concern for the new Director of Parks & Neighborhoods in Memphis

“Parks, schools, neighborhoods - we shouldn’t evaluate parks on a dollars and cents basis," said Nick Walker.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Park it right here, toots. I’ve got a little something to tell you about Memphis City Parks.

The new Director of Parks and Neighborhoods wants to change them.

Now the guy we’re talking about is a fella named Nick Walker. Now, Nick has worked in Parks and Neighborhoods for a couple of years.

“I’m a believer that I am in the quality of life business,” he said. “Parks, schools, neighborhoods - we shouldn’t evaluate parks on a dollars and cents basis.”

Well that’s different. It’s been said you can tell how tight the Memphis City Budget is by how deep the grass is at parks. But that philosophy changed under Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, who often talks of quality of life.

This city knows how to have public meetings on things. There are meetings about everything, and the parks are no exception. In this case, Nick Walker is taking those public meetings seriously.

“People want to see walking trails. They want to see splash pads,” he said. “They want to see indoor recreation, particularly our aging communities. They want indoor walking paths.”

He wants to make parks more than just “geezer” friendly.

“It seems pretty strange to people of my generation,” he said, “... but a lot of younger people want the parks to have wifi, so they can have music, video applications, and gaming.”

Walker knows there is a perception that many Memphis City Parks are unsafe.

“The things we can control in terms of safety,” he said, “... is making sure parks are well maintained. Making sure we trim the trees, that we keep the grass cut, and pick up the litter - that we do all the things that discourage bad behavior in parks.”