Parks department provides myriad activities for Kingman residents

(First of four parts)

On Saturday, the Kingman Parks and Recreation Department will hold an open house at the Centennial Park Community Center to present the future of the system over the next 5-10 years.

In this series, the city Parks and Recreation Department operations will be covered including an overview and future planning, parks operation, golf course, swim program and activities program.

Kingman City Planner invites the public to the open house to see what the plans are and to offer ideas.

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If you cannot find something to do in Kingman, you probably have not been in contact with the city Parks and Recreation Department.

Darel Fruhwirth, the department's director for the past 15 years, said scheduling a date to hold an event is getting more difficult as the facilities and programs continue to increase.

Fruhwirth oversees a $3.8 million operating budget and a staff of 35 plus part-time employees in park maintenance, the swim program and golf course maintenance.

Services are provided to the Kingman area, and not limited to city residents.

"We have at least two or three activities for each person going on most all the time," Fruhwirth said.

"We never check residence and have become the activity and recreation center for the greater Kingman area.

Annexation will not change our programming."

He credits his staff and superintendents with the success of the program and facilities.

Programs are divided by function with park superintendent Ralph Rogers, recreation superintendent Keith Adams and golf superintendent Jim Furtchbar handling the three divisions.

Administrative secretary Teri Kornberg keeps everything running.

Adams has a pool operator, Debbie Kuenzli, on board to handle swimming facilities.

Swim-related activities are a major part of the summer at the park with two pools open until Labor Day.

Kuenzli began as a life guard and has been manager of the pools the past six hears, Adams said.

More than 40 part-time life guards, instructors and others are added for the summer

"Our front-line people who create the image of Kingman are the ones working for Rogers that maintain the parks, the landscaping and the public grounds," Fruhwirth said.

"They keep a high level of standards and maintenance for visitors to see."

The maintenance task continues to increase as parks and landscape projects are added.

"If it is green we take care of it," he said.

"Special events like the Andy Devine Parade, the Fourth of July celebration and softball tournaments depend on Rogers' staff to put out facilities in top shape."

Fruhwirth said new parks, bicycle and foot trails and preserving open space are all part of the future.

"We buy land ahead with foresight so it will be there as the city grows around it," he said.

Now under design are Canyon Shadows Neighborhood Park in RiataValley and Walleck Ranch Park along the Mohave Wash at Willow Street.

Other land sites on the agenda are Hualapai Mountain Foothills, Rancho Santa Fe, and the area west of Kingman Regional Medical Center.

A skate park and a dog park have been added in the last few months with the dog park still under construction.

Open space preservation includes the White Cliffs area between the golf course and downtown.

Trails from Camp Beale Springs and down the Mohave Wash are being extended with cooperation with other agencies.

The landscape project along Andy Devine Avenue being done by the Arizona Department of Transportation will be maintained by Rogers' crew.

The new plantings along Hualapai Mountain Road have been added to city park responsibility this year.

He said the golf course is a major asset for economic development and bringing professional staff to the area for city and county government and for local industry.

The golf course is also drawing winter visitors and golfing tourists.

The golf facility hosts a junior program that keeps Kingman high School competitive with Phoenix area schools, Fruhwirth said.

This another example of sharing facilities in the city.

He ranks the golf course among the top ten municipal courses in Arizona.

Fruhwirth said the city has received state and national recognition for the quality of parks and the recreation program.

"The R/ UDAT study gave us high marks," he said.

"People who attend national softball tournaments in Kingman tell us the facilities are among the best they see and the local people are friendly and make them welcome."

"We are proud of the quality of life in Kingman," he said.

"The facilities, parks, golf course, trails and landscaping plus the activities of the Parks and Recreation Department contribute a lot to that quality of life.

We help make this a good place to live."