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Posted on: January 18, 2023

John Bell named Parks Superintendent

John Bell

John Bell named Parks Superintendent for Shawnee County Parks + Recreation

TOPEKA, KAN. – John Bell has been appointed Parks Superintendent for Shawnee County Parks + Recreation. Bell brings to the position 25 years of knowledge of SCP+R’s parks and facilities including managing park assets and programs.

Bell began his career with the former City of Topeka Parks and Recreation Department in 2004. He supervised the Gage Park mini-train and carousel from 2012-2016, and has supervised Old Prairie Town since 2010 and Great Overland Station since 2020. He has overseen the establishment of Tulips and Twilight and Ward-Meade Garden Glow, overseen the Apple Festival and took our department’s lead in preparing Great Overland Station for the Topeka Dino Days exhibit.

He established the Friends of Ward-Meade to support Old Prairie Town and the Ward-Meade Botanical Garden. He has helped the group establish two national display gardens and recently oversaw the addition of a Native American Encampment to Old Prairie Town.

During Bell’s tenure, Old Prairie Town has received NACPRO’s Historical/Cultural Facility Award and Old Prairie Town has been named Best Local Historical Site and Tulips at Twilight has been named Best Local Event in the Best of Topeka Voting. 

Bell has been named to Emporia State University’s Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department Alumni Hall of Honor. He was named one of Topeka’s 20 under 40 and has twice served as vice president of the Topeka Tourism Alliance.


Shawnee County Parks + Recreation includes nearly 60 miles of trails, 2,696 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.

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