TOPEKA, KAN. – Tim Laurent, director, Shawnee County Parks + Recreation, has received the Kansas Recreation and Park Association’s Distinguished Professional Award. The award was announced during the KRPA Annual Conference and Trade Show April 14 in Emporia, Kan. As Laurent was unable to attend the April meeting, KRPA Executive Director Erika Devore presented the award in person during the May 6 meeting of the Shawnee County Board of Commissioners.
Laurent joined SCP+R as deputy director in January of 2019. Six months later, he succeeded John Knight as director of the department, bringing 25 years of progressively responsible experience from his previous work with Lawrence Parks and Recreation.
In Lawrence, Laurent began as Recreation Center Programmer before being promoted to Facilities Operation Supervisor, Recreation Operations Manager and Support Services Manager in Lawrence. During his tenure, he oversaw the department’s facilities, divisional and overall budgets, relationships with the City Commission, Advisory Board, police and fire departments and community organizations. He trained and supervised staff and worked to create a positive employee environment that encouraged input and creativity. He also oversaw the construction of the $22.5 million state-of-the-art Sports Pavilion in Lawrence’s Rock Chalk Park.
In two years under Laurent’s leadership, SCP+R made improvements to 21 parks culminating with the ribbon cutting for the remodeled Hillcrest Community Center, the capstone of $1 million in improvements to Hillcrest Community Park which included the area’s first outdoor fitness equipment, first Futsal court, new playground equipment, improvements to
Hillcrest Pool and new security lighting. Laurent recently oversaw the development of a Master Plan for the proposed Family Park at SW 21st and Urish.
Laurent has also made progress on the department’s sizeable amount of deferred maintenance in existing parks. Projects underway include improvements to Kossover Tennis Complex, the extension of the Deer Creek Trail which will ultimately connect Shawnee County’s trail network across the community, the installation of a new floating playground at the Lake Shawnee Adventure Cove, artificial turf installation at the multi-purpose field at Bettis Family Sports Complex and installation of turf infields at the Lake Shawnee Girls Softball Complex.
Laurent has been a KRPA member since 1998 and has served on the Recreation Branch as well as the Awards Committee multiple times. He is also a KRPA Tomorrow’s Leaders graduate and serves on KRPA’s Professional Development Committee.
Shawnee County Parks + Recreation includes nearly 60 miles of trails, 2,625 acres of parks and 320 annual days of sporting activities. In addition, the department offers recreation programs, educational programs and golf. A combination of tax dollars, user fees and private donations enables Shawnee County Parks and Recreation to offer parks, sporting and aquatic facilities with state-of-the art features, and beautiful, nationally recognized gardens.