James R. Garges, CPRP, retired in 2017 from the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department in North Carolina. He has served as the Director of the Cincinnati Recreation Commission, Cincinnati, Ohio (2001-2007); Director Kettering Parks, in the Recreation and Cultural Arts Department, City of Kettering, Ohio (1986-2001); the Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation of Topeka, City of Topeka, Kansas (1985-86); Superintendent of Recreation, Parks and Recreation of Topeka, City of Topeka, Kansas (1983-85); and Director, Delaware Department of Parks and Recreation (1979-83). During his career, he has also served as an adjunct professor at Ohio Wesleyan University, Washburn University, University of Cincinnati and the University of Dayton.
While Jim was Director in Kettering, the City received the Gold Medal Award, The National Excellence in Aquatic Award, and the NRPS Kudos Award as Best Overall Communicator. Kettering was the first accredited Park and Recreation Department in Ohio, and the Cincinnati Recreation Commission was also accredited while Jim was Director.
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department serves a growing community estimated at more than 900,000 residents. The consolidated department serves the city of Charlotte, the towns of Davidson, Huntersville, Cornelius, Matthews, Mint Hill, and Pineville, as well unincorporated sections of Mecklenburg County. The department has 459 regular employees and an annual operating budget of $45 million. Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation is the steward of more than 17,000 acres of parkland and natural areas with more than 200 recreation facilities. In 2007 Mecklenburg County developed a 10 Year Master Plan for Park and Recreation which recommends major expansions of facilities and programming that total more than $1.45 billion. In 2008 Mecklenburg residents approved a $250 million bond referendum to begin work on the master plan.
Jim received his Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Park Administration (1974) and his Master of Science in Recreation and Park Administration from Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana (1978).
Jim has served as Chairman, State of Ohio Parks and Recreation Advisory Council (1997 to present); State of Ohio Recreation Resources Commission (1996 - present); NRPA Chairman National Issues and Action Committee (1998-00); Indiana University Executive Development School Board of Trustees (1997-00); and Chairman, National Recreation and Parks Association Great Lakes Regional Council (2000). He has also made numerous presentations to professional audiences.
He has received the Indiana University - Garret Eppley Distinguished Alumni Award (1998); National Recreation and Park Association - Great Lakes Professional of the Year (1994); and the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association - Outstanding Professional Leadership Award (1993).