GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — I just don’t see Nasha McCray spending a lot of time sitting behind a desk even though that’s probably the way most people would envision her new job.
She’s one of Greensboro’s new assistant city managers who oversees multiple community services departments including workforce development, Creative Greensboro, neighborhood development, libraries, museums, human rights as well as parks and recreation.
“Collaboration and community,” she told me when I asked recently about the common thread that runs through all her new responsibilities. “And I think this is a great opportunity with me coming in as a leader to help continue the continuity of these services to help make them much more impactful to enhance the quality of life for our community.”
Since 2018, she’s been in charge of a big part of city services: the parks and recreation department. She’ll still oversee the department even though the city plans to hire a new director to replace her in that position.
She arrived in Greensboro in 2009 when the city hired her as a planning and project division manager for parks and recreation.
Name a parks and recreation project that launched between 2009 and 2020, and McCray has been a part of it.
From the development of LeBauer Park downtown to the combining of Country Park, the Greensboro Science Center and the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park into a destination point called The Battleground Parks District, McCray’s influence is there.
Under McCray’s leadership, Greensboro’s Parks and Recreation Department won the 2020 National Gold Award for Excellence from the American Academy of Parks and Recreation Administration and the National Recreation and Park Association.
Today, the department manages 12,000 acres and more than 175 facilities, both indoor and outdoor. The department employs between 150 and 400 full and part-time employees depending on the season. (Summer is the busiest.)
“What we pride ourselves on is providing recreation opportunities from cradle to grave and everything in between.” she said. “We literally have programming for ages zero to 10. We have adult programming (including special projects for those 50 and older.) We (also) manage four city cemeteries!”
The job hasn’t always been easy.
As we reported earlier this summer, some of the city’s recreation centers and public pools are 50 years and older. They’re also falling apart.
““Being able to keep up with and stay fresh and stay current with the investment that’s needed to meet community needs and as the community is changing has been a little bit of a challenge for us,” she told me.
It’s why she and the city have applied for a million dollars in American Rescue Plan money to help start the process of modernizing those facilities.
The city got a major boost on July 26 when voters approved a $70 million parks and recreation bond package.
$20 million will help the Greensboro Science Center build a rainforest “bio dome” and an aquatic center rehabilitation and care complex.
$50 million will help the city design and build in the Nocho Park area off Gate City Boulevard the new Windsor-Chavis-Nocho Joint Use Facility. It will include a recreation center, a swimming pool, a library, and a meeting center— all under one roof.
“This has been about a 10-year concept in the making,” she said. “There will be nothing like this in North America. Integrating different types (of city services) is the way of the future.”
She’s also confident this facility could be a model when upgrading and building new parks and recreation facilities.
No doubt she’ll play a hand in developing those future projects and others in her new position. But making sure those and current facilities are accessible to everyone in the community will be a part of the “human rights” component of this job and a priority.
She’s well aware the city has long been divided along racial, cultural and economic lines.
“I think a lot of it stems from communication,” she told me when I asked her how Greensboro can become more inclusive. “And I think an acknowledgement of the past is required. If you can acknowledge where you’ve come from and where you’ve been, we can take that and take steps toward making progress toward a brighter and more equitable future.”
Just don’t count on McCray doing all that from behind a desk!
For more information on the programs and services Greensboro Parks and Recreation has to offer, click here.