Friends, colleagues share memories of DeWitt's longtime parks and recreation director
Kimberly Ball, 51, passed away April 12 after an eight-year intermittent battle with breast cancer. Kim, who joined the Town of DeWitt Parks and Recreation staff in 1985, was named director in 1990.
Highlights from her 18-year tenure as director include numerous developments and expansions of programs, events and natural areas. Among her most well known public contributions is the annual Howling Hayride and Maze at Maxwell Park.
"What started with a handful of employees and a few props and scenes has grown to a seasonal staff of 35 ghouls, a wagon ride through haunted woods and a maintenance garage turned haunted house that thrills everyone," said Karen Keast in a nomination letter for the 2007 Goukas award. "Never one to be content with the status quo, Kim researched and designed a maze as an added attraction that's become almost as popular as the ride itself."
The Central New York Recreation and Park Society hands out the Goukas award annually. Kim was honoree in 2007.
The Ryder Park Butterfly House was also the result of Kim's tireless efforts.
"When the butterfly house was built, Kim self-professed that she didn't know much about butterflies, but that the butterfly house would be a perfect fit in a park trying to stay as natural as possible," Keast said. "Today, the Ryder Park Butterfly House bustles with activity in the spring as it serves numerous school groups that visit and release butterflies as part of their science class. The town naturalist maintains the Butterfly House and leads groups through it and in and around other natural areas of the park. No such position existed until Kim envisioned it, created it, and supported it financially."
In her personal life, Kim, an accomplished athlete and member of numerous championship teams in both basketball and softball, also enjoyed tennis, hiking, kayaking -- and watching reruns of M*A*S*H.