July 18, 2006
Charlotte, NC— R. Wayne Weston, Director of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department, announced his retirement tonight to stunned members of the Mecklenburg Park and Recreation Commission. Weston, 61, said he will retire on August 1.
"It is just time to catch my breath," Weston said. "I've worked a lot of 12 to 14 hour days. Now is just a good time." Weston said he is proud of the great staff of professionals he will leave at the parks department. But he is most proud of the resurgence of neighborhood parks in many of Charlotte's inner city neighborhoods, a resurgence he pushed hard for after the merger of Charlotte parks into the County department.
Weston has been director of the County parks department since 1985. During his tenure he had many accomplishments. For instance he:
- Managed the merger of the City and County Park and Recreation Departments in 1992
- Assembled eight successful bond referendums for land acquisition, development of greenways, recreation centers and park facilities. These referendums totaled more than $209,000,000.
- Supervised construction of 24 miles of Greenways including 3.6 miles so far of the signature project, Little Sugar Creek Greenway. The greenway master plan now calls for 185 miles.
- Directed renovation of 85 older parks
- Oversaw the design and construction of a wide variety of innovative public recreation facilities including the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center, Ray's Splash Planet, Grayson Skate State, Johnson C. Smith University Track, Freedom Park Pavilion, plus several recreation centers and public parks of all sizes with amenities including athletic fields, playgrounds, pavilions, walking trails, picnic shelters, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, gazebos, and natural areas.
Weston helped establish a broad system for citizen participation in the parks department. He established Citizen Advisory Councils for each park district and for many recreational activities.
He was always challenging the county and the park and recreation staff to do more to keep youngsters out of trouble with positive sports and recreation. At the same time he sought more quality leisure activities for adults and senior citizens. Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department operates 164 parks, 25 recreation centers, and 6500 acres of nature preserves.
One member of the Park and Recreation Commission, Bill Brawley, had tears in his eyes as Weston announced his retirement. The commission's chairman, Robert Patterson, said "I will be a leader in the Wayne Weston fan club for ever and ever."