Bart Fischer, ICMA-CM
When contemplating my favorite hangout in Oakdale, I immediately thought of the Oakdale Nature Preserve.
When entering the nature preserve, your attention is first drawn to the Discovery Center, an aesthetically pleasing building that houses our city's parks and recreation department and hosts many weddings and other special events.
Just outside the center, there is a nearby area to watch birds, wildlife, and an array of wildflowers. The center is surrounded by the nature preserve, which encompasses 220 acres of forest including trails, fitness stations, a forest garden, and a lake with a floating boardwalk.
Walking through the preserve, you forget that you are in a suburb minutes away from the Twin Cities. It truly is a treasure, hiding in plain sight.
My favorite hangout in Chalfont is on any of our many biking and hiking trails that run through our park system.
As municipal leaders, we spend a lot of time working at the local level to protect and provide access to our natural resources Connections are made on the trails and in parks, and I love the chance to chat with our residents, whether it be a senior ladies walking group, a mom with her kids, or an active group of teens out for a bike ride.
These conversations likely wouldn't happen in the office, but out in the parks, people tell me what they love about our town, or they might mention some additional services that would be helpful. I value those connections and a few minutes in the sunshine.
While a lot of great locations come to mind, our little league and softball park rises to the top. I have found over the years that nothing surpasses the energy, fellowship, and bond that is created when the community comes together in one place for our youth.
While youth sports are certainly extremely rewarding, much like our management profession, they are not without their struggles and challenges. Nothing beats the sense of pride, joy, and accomplishment when players hit or catch the ball for the first time.
Over time, you watch and help them grow and learn to win and lose with dignity and civility and understand the essence of teamwork.
Similar to the sense of pride one feels in our profession when a difficult project comes to fruition; a challenging issue or problem is resolved; a community bands together and sets aside differences; staff members grow, shine, and reach greater heights; and a manager truly makes a positive difference in someone's life.