By George Slaughter
Brad Barnes has resigned as Katy parks and recreation director to take a similar position in Midlothian, just south of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Barnes described Midlothian as a little bit bigger than Katy, but still a small community. It has a council-manager form of municipal government.
“It’s kind of at the edge of the metropolitan community,” Barnes said. “If you go south, you’re out in the farmland.”
The big change, and challenge, is that he will be working with more resources. Among the projects he will work on is the development of a new community park.
The park is being developed in two phases. The first phase is complete. The second phase, for $16 million, is part of a bond referendum scheduled for November.
“The staff is a little bit bigger,” Barnes said. “The city is investing a lot of resources into the parks and recreation department. It’s the same role, but the scope and scale is going to be bigger.”
Another focus he will have is developing a trail system through the town, which he said will have a huge impact on the quality of life there.
Reflecting on his time in Katy, Barnes didn’t point to any one, legacy accomplishment, but said several things made a big impact.
“We’ve made improvements at some of the facilities,” Barnes said. “We put in a new restroom at the Katy Dog Park, and that was sorely needed.”
Barnes said the department installed a new rental pavilion at the Katy Play Station, which is part of the city park, among other improvements, such as upgrading the condition of the ball fields at the park.
“They’re playing softball and kickball at Katy City Park, and that hadn’t happened in a long time,” Barnes said. “On a personal level, my family and I absolutely love Katy. It was a really tough decision, and it wasn’t a decision we took lightly. Professionally, it was a move that was going to be a benefit to me and family. As much as we enjoyed our time in Katy, this was something we really couldn’t pass up.”
City Administrator Byron Hebert said there is discussion of moving the Katy parks and recreation on the city’s organization chart, reporting to Kayce Reina, director of marketing and public relations for the city. An ordinance would need to be passed for this to happen, but hurricane recovery efforts have taken priority.
Another city official said Reina has been overseeing the recreation functions of the department presently.