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Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District's first employee will be blazing a new trail this summer.

Bonnie Park will be retiring in May, after working for the District since 1996.

"It was a big learning curve to start with and nobody knew who Basin Recreation was for a very long time, but it has definitely become a big part of the community now," Park said.

Park served for 10 years as the Basin Recreation administrator, until stepping down in 2006 to spend more time with family. She then became the Special Projects Administrator for a few years, until she was appointed Public Affairs Manager, the position she currently holds.

"It's a big organization now," Park said. "We have 22 full-time staff, a number of seasonal workers and we now offer a broad range of services. It's become very big. In retrospect, as I've looked at this decision to move on, I prefer more ground-floor opportunities with smaller organizations. It's just my nature"

Park said the positions she has held in the past have been with smaller organizations, and when she started with Basin Recreation, it was also smaller at the time.

"When I stepped down in 2006, I compared it to raising my third child up through adolescence. And I said, I don't need to be in charge of this," she said.

Park began working with Basin Recreation after observing young children playing at City Park.

"I had young children and I noticed there were no other places for kids to play in the Basin other than a few little neighborhood parks," she said. "At first, working with Basin Recreation was creating places to play at a time when growth was incredible. We were able to work in conjunction with the Summit County Planning Department at the time they were revising the General Plan, much like they are now."

Basin Recreation and the Planning Department wrote provisions into the General Plan requiring park sites be dedicated as part of the development approval process, Park said.

"In addition, as new development was approved, we were able to acquire trail easements so that, piece by piece, the trail system came together," she said. "A lot of people used to say, why doesn't that trail go anywhere? And we said that it will someday. It just took a long time to get there."

Park added that when she was first hired, Basin Recreation's board had just acquired Trailside Park.

"We were working with the landscape architect through the approval process, and people were asking why we were building that park in the middle of nowhere. As you can see, it's not in the middle of nowhere anymore," she laughed.

contrast, Willow Creek Park was built adjacent to several neighborhoods.

"It was a very controversial approval process, because we were putting a park in the middle of all those neighborhoods," Park said. "There were a lot of feelings about that. The idea behind the big public parks is to bring neighborhoods together, and I think that park in particular demonstrates how successful that ideology was."

Park's efforts haven't gone unnoticed. She recently received the Utah Recreation and Parks Association Lifetime Achievement Award

"That was a surprise," she said. "It was a very nice, thoughtful gesture and it was quite an honor."

Park said she's proud of many things from the 17 years she's been with Basin Recreation, but she attributes many of the accomplishments to a great working board, which she said was able to achieve a high level of interlocal cooperation.

"The board has had to be very involved with a lot of communities and works with Park City and the school district," she said. "People ask us how we get to use the school district field. Well, we offered to maintain it, which benefits everybody, because school districts are in the business of educating people. When they are going through budget struggles, they don't necessarily want to spend a lot of money maintaining their field facilities.

"We have a demographic that values our field facilities, so if we can maintain the fields to a level that keeps them in great shape for all our recreational activities and competitive clubs, everybody wins."

Park said she is not currently searching for work but is instead going to take some time to regroup. 

"I'm looking forward to taking some time off, and I have some other ideas for career paths I might want to take," she said. "For now, I'm going to do a little bit of traveling and be out on the trails. The nice thing about living where we live, you don't have to go very far to have some fun."