Citizens of Chapel Hill and Parks and Recreation staff members gathered at the Homestead Aquatic Center Tuesday for the third meet-and-greet of the new year.
Phil Fleischmann, the Parks and Recreation director who was appointed in May and began working in the position on June 10, said he holds these events to hear concerns directly from the residents of Chapel Hill and make himself visible to the public.
The event took place in the lobby of the community swimming pool. There were “wish trees” posted around the room, on which residents of Chapel Hill could write their concerns, wishes or thoughts on Post-it Notes to be read by the department.
Wes Tilghman, Chapel Hill's marketing and sponsorship coordinator, said the meet-and-greet was intentionally informal.
“We wanna have a grassroots opportunity for people to share some of their ideas or their best wishes, or maybe they share with us some different barriers that keep them from participating with us,” he said. “This particularly gives us an opportunity primarily to meet Phil, meet some of us and just kind of put faces with names.”
Fleischmann, who is is a Raleigh native and UNC graduate, said he realized he wanted to work in parks and recreation because the field is about helping people and trying to make a difference in the community.
Fleischmann said he holds these events to hear from citizens and get to know them. He said inclusion of residents in park and recreational planning is a large part of how he operates.
“These community listening sessions are one part of my strategy to try to make sure that we’re responsive to the needs of the community,” he said. “I am trying to be visible within the community as well, so folks can get to know me, and I can get to know them. It’s best to learn about the community we’re serving through interaction with community members.”
Around 10 community members attended, willfully filling out the “wish trees” and voicing their concerns with members of the department.