Name: Ryan Raleigh
Occupation: Director of Operations for the Decatur Park District
City of residency: Decatur
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I have really enjoyed working with a great staff to bring new recreational amenities to Decatur and improve the appearance of our parks and facilities. Last year, we installed a new high ropes course at Overlook Adventure Park, which is the first of its kind in Central Illinois.
I have also been involved in the construction of Overlook Adventure Park mini golf and batting cages, mountain bike trails, pickleball courts, basketball courts, playgrounds, new pavilions, the penguin exhibit at Scovill Zoo and the new deck and restrooms at the Beach House. I love watching people use these facilities and knowing that we have made a difference in their quality of life.
What are some of the new projects you are working on?
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I am really excited about the new amphitheater in Nelson Park and aquatics facility at Overlook Adventure Park. With a site overlooking the lake, the amphitheater will be a beautiful spot for great entertainment. The aquatics facility will include a leisure pool, lap pool, zip line, climbing wall and slides that have just been introduced in the U.S.
If money were no obstacle, what's something that the park district would like to do?
One of the elements in the Lakeshore Landing master plan is a large zip line park. This would be another fun addition to Overlook Adventure Park and would encourage people to get outside and enjoy the great views of the lake and park.
What do you like to do for fun when you're not at work?
I enjoy being outside and exercising. The Stevens Creek bike trail is a hidden gem that is great for running and biking. I also enjoy many of the local running and biking events put on by the park district, Fleet Feet and Spin City. There is a great group of people involved in these events.
Is there a park in the country that you've always wanted to visit?
I have been fortunate to hike some beautiful parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado), Joshua Tree National Park (California), Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs and the Smoky Mountains. One park that I would love to visit in the future is Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming). I just love the view of the mountains. It is such a contrast from Central Illinois.