As Denison prepares to launch its new $17 million sports and recreation park later this summer, the city has brought in new staff with experience with fitness through all ages to help lead the effort. Late last month, officials with the city of Denison announced that Justin Eastwood would be joining the city as the new administrator for THF Park.


“It is a very important position for us as we look forward to opening this park,” Denison City Manager Jud Rex said last week. “It will be our largest park, and since it is a regional park, with a large size and scope, it requires a full-time position over it.”


Eastwood previously worked with the city of McKinney and was involved with the launch and management of the city’s Apex Center. Eastwood brings with him a background in wellness, fitness and sports, but also has studied gerontology — the study of aging and old age.


“I’d say that the opportunity in and of itself is pretty amazing,” Eastwood said Tuesday, referring to the THF Park. “There is no park like this in the area, or likely in the entire region.”


Rex said the position is unique in its scope, in that Eastwood will be focusing on one project of a large scale. The administrator will not be a director-level position, but will be higher than others, putting it in line with a manager-level position.


The city first announced the 80-acre park and sports complex, north of Gateway Village, in late 2015 following several years of discussion on the possibility of new recreational facilities. Plans for the project include five baseball and softball fields, five multi-use sports fields, sand volley ball courts, playground equipment and walking trails, among other amenities.


The projects represents a partnership between the city, who will contribute about $6 million, Texoma Health Foundation, who added about $8 million, and the developers of Gateway Village, who contributed about $3 million in land.


Throughout development, city officials touted the development as an amenity that could be used and enjoyed by all Denison residents regardless of age. With that in mind, Eastwood said he plans to incorporate programs and services that are aimed specifically at Denison’s, and Texoma’s, aging population.


“With this project, I think the possibilities are endless for our aging population,” he said, highlighting exercise and wellness programs aimed at the elderly. “When people think of wellness, they think mostly of physical, while we also have mental and social wellness to consider.”


While construction continues at the park, with city officials calling for a late-June completion with good weather, Eastwood said he is currently working on establishing systems and procedures for the park. These duties include setting policies and rules for park use and facility rental.


Other aspects include recruitment of new tournaments and events at the park. While Rex said none have been scheduled yet, he said there has been interest from tournament organizers.


“Staff, including the new park manager, Justin Eastwood, have been working with a number of partners interested in bringing tournaments and leagues to THF Park,” he said. “We have also been working with the Chamber of Commerce who will partner with us to promote and market the park to potential users.


“While we don’t have any specific events at this time, we expect to announce some important partnerships in the coming months that will bring a significant number of visitors to the park.”