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New director of Parks and Recreation Program hits the ground running

Mark Gasche
Mark Gasche has some heavy lifting to do as the new director of Parks and Recreation for the city and township of Northville. In his new role, he oversees 12 parks with baseball/softball fields, 15 soccer/lacrosse fields, two dog parks, three picnic pavilions, five tennis courts, a Recreation Center, and a Community Center, which houses the Northville Senior Center. He leads a staff of six full-time and more than 50 part-time employees. He says he is up for the challenge.

Gasche’s first order of business is to set up soccer and baseball contracts for Spring 2017. His department provides the fields while Soccer Northville and Northville Baseball and Softball Association (NBSA) run the programs. Another priority is to obtain $279,000 to make improvements at Fish Hatchery Park, which will remove a retaining wall, restore habitat along the banks and in the waterway, and create direct access to Johnson Creek. Those funds are expected to come from a pending state grant and Wayne County millage funds.

A myriad of programs – basketball, volleyball, tennis/fitness, and other sports and special events keep the staff running. “We’re analyzing staffing levels to maximize resources and improve efficiencies,” he said.

“Personally, I want to be sure we are providing excellent customer service to residents, people who register for our programs, and with city and township departments. We want to be responsive to their needs, especially since this community is so involved and connected.”

The Parks and Recreation Department has a strong community involvement with Northville schools; the DDA, Rotary Club, Maybury State Park and others for programming and special events.

The program age range is from preschoolers to seniors and Gasche realizes the challenges of keeping those programs relevant to their needs. “For seniors, the health issue is tied into flexibility, strength and mobility. Our programs are critical to maintaining those skills.

“We’ve got a great facility for adults and seniors at the Community Center with a large gym, a yoga room and a combination dance/fitness room for programs like Zumba. We offer a lot of free and low-cost programs to seniors.

“We serve as the entry point for kids in sports.” Gasche said. “The programs focus on skill development, the social aspect and just having fun. When kids get older, they tend to specialize in a sport and do it at a competitive level at school or with other sports programs.

“Fitness is a really big thing in our society. Community-based programs have taken on a larger role. A lot of that used to be offered in the schools. For adults’ lifelong health and wellness, they need to be active – even if it’s just walking the trails. It’s part of our mission to provide wellness and fitness programs for better health,” he said.

Gasche comes to Northville from Pittsfield Township, which emphasized more trails and woodlands in its parks, along with a strong senior recreation program. The bigger parks that Gasche manages are Fish Hatchery Park, Northville Community Park, Ford Field, and Millennium Park.

“In Northville, we have some really good recreation facilities… including softball, soccer and lacrosse fields, along with multiple gyms and indoor spaces,” he said. “I’m excited to be able to program those facilities.”

He appreciates the cooperative effort the staff has made to keep everything running smoothly during this transition time. “The team has pulled together to make a seamless transition so the community continues to be served at a high level,” he said.

Gasche is a 33-year veteran of community parks and recreation departments in New York, Indiana and Michigan. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Central Michigan University. He is a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) through mParks. He has held board positions in several professional organizations and in the community, including Kiwanis Club and United Way.

His personal interests include golf, walking, bike riding, and attending concerts at smaller venues. He is also a big Tigers fan. He and his wife Lee Anne have two adult sons, and are relocating to the area from Adrian.

 

 

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