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The original item was published from 10/27/2023 10:31:00 AM to 10/27/2023 11:30:05 AM.

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Springfield-Greene County Park Board News

Posted on: October 27, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Parks Director Bob Belote announces retirement following 20 years of service

A headshot of Bob Belote

SPRINGFIELD, MO — Springfield-Greene County Park Board Director Bob Belote has announced his retirement, planned for mid-January, 2024. His retirement comes after 20 consecutive years with the Park Board, serving as Parks Director since April 2012, having previously served as Assistant Director and Superintendent of Recreation. Belote has also managed parks departments in other communities. 

Belote has had a lifelong affiliation with the Park Board. He grew up playing in Sequiota Park, took part in youth sports programs, and met his future wife, Deana, while they both worked as part-time Parks employees. He said leading the Park Board in his hometown has been the pinnacle of his career, in part because of how the community responds to its parks. 

“Our parks here are very personal for our residents, as they provide a real sense of renewal, hope and pride,” said Belote.  “I know this from the way our parks and outdoor spaces helped develop me as a kid growing up here in Springfield, as well as the continued impact they’ve had on my family, as our children have experienced them growing up. It’s a really special park system, with a really special team in place to help manage it. It’s truly been my honor and privilege to be a part of it for all these years.”   

Belote is the fourth Parks Director to serve the Park Board in the last 70 years. Accomplishments under Belote’s leadership include:

  • Celebrating the Park Board’s 100th Anniversary in 2013 and Dickerson Park Zoo’s 100th Anniversary in 2023.
  • Achieving CAPRA National Accreditation in 2016, reaccrediting in 2021, ranking the Park Board among the top 2 percent of Parks and Recreation agencies in the country.
  • Keeping parks, trails and open space open during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, quickly restoring programs and facilities, and rebounding with record-breaking golf revenue, canoe and kayak rentals and trail usage. 
  • Operating the Springfield Lasers Pro Tennis Franchise, which won the World TeamTennis Championships in 2018 and 2019.
  • With the City of Springfield and Springfield-Greene County Health Department, helping to establish the inBalance Employee Wellness Program in 2013.
  • Introducing alcohol sales at golf courses and permitting alcohol at key park sites in 2018.
  • Adopting a new Parks & Recreation Master Plan in 2021, in conjunction with the City of Springfield’s Forward SGF Comprehensive Plan. 
  • Securing numerous multi-year contracts to host MSHSAA State Championships, including Tennis, Golf, Softball, Baseball and Soccer, in partnership with the Springfield Sports Commission. 
  • Expanding acreage for Sequiota Park, in partnership with the City, in 2020-21.
  • Relocating Timmons Temple into Silver Springs Park, in partnership with Friends of Timmons Temple, in 2015, and redeveloping the building as Timmons Hall. 
  • Assuming full-time operations at Springfield Skate Park in 2014. 
  • Becoming the first parks department inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.
  • Acquiring the four-court Fieldhouse Sportscenter, in partnership with the City, in 2021. 
  • Establishing a Parks Reserve Fund, currently budgeted at $1,961,906.
  • Establishing the Davis House & Property as the Springfield Archery Center and home to the Community Sports Development Program. 
  • Stabilizing Golf Enterprise Fund finances, including a record-setting 2022-23 Fiscal Year.
  • Expanding the two-time Park Law Enforcement Association National Award-winning Park Ranger Division, from one to eight full-time rangers.
  • Receiving $26 million in combined City, ARPA, Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau and private funds to fully renovate Cooper Park Sports Complex, planned for the next three years.
  • Establishing and expanding Pickleball opportunities throughout the park system, including the 12-court Meador Pickleball Complex. 

“Speaking for the board, we’ve all been very impressed with Bob’s professionalism and dedication, his passion for parks, and his relentless energy and ability to look ahead,” said Randy Blackwood, Park Board Chair. 

Blackwood noted Belote’s focus on cultivating parks partnerships, his leadership during the COVID pandemic, his support and encouragement for Parks staff and associates, and his advocacy for reinvesting in sports infrastructure. Blackwood said Belote’s immediate legacy will be the redevelopment of Cooper Park, including 19 sports turf fields at Killian Softball Complex, Cooper Youth Baseball Complex and the Cooper Soccer Complex, slated for completion in 2025. 

“His career has culminated in a new-found community focus on sports tourism, and gained momentum with the City, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Springfield Sports Commission, and the greater community,” said Blackwood. “Bob is leaving tremendously big shoes to fill, but our Parks system has taken a positive trajectory during his tenure as parks director, and we are in a position to use that blueprint for even greater success.”

While the Park Board serves both Springfield and Greene County, the Parks Director is a city employee and a member of the city’s leadership team. 

“Bob has done a terrific job leading the Springfield-Greene County parks, one of Missouri's most impressive municipal park systems,” said Springfield City Manager Jason Gage. “He is a wonderful person and a big contributor to our leadership team.  We will definitely miss him.” 

Belote earned a master’s degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1995 and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Missouri State University in 1987. He is also a 1997 graduate of the National Recreation and Park Association Executive Development School and a member of the Leadership Springfield Signature Class 25.

Belote spent 12 years managing parks departments in Missouri and Iowa before returning to Springfield in 2004, including Director of Parks and Recreation, City of Independence, Mo., 1998-2004; Director of Parks and Recreation, City of Sioux City, Iowa, 1997-1998; and Assistant Parks Director, City of Blue Springs, Mo., 1992-97. Belote was also the Youth Baseball Program Director for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board in 1989 and served a graduate-level internship with the Park Board in 1988.

Belote and his wife have two adult children: Dr. Alex Belote and Dr. Abbey (Belote) Brand, who both grew up playing tennis at Cooper Tennis Complex, their family’s “second home.” A graduate of Kickapoo High School, Belote spent several years in the Park Board’s youth baseball and basketball programs. He picked up tennis and golf during college and he still plays today.

Always emphasizing the importance of family to his employees, Belote plans to spend much more time with his wife, his kids and his father in retirement. He also plans to travel, volunteer, take in more live music shows, hang out at the lake, and spend more time enjoying golf, tennis and cycling, and “less time helping to manage them,” he said. 

An Interim Parks Director will be named in the coming weeks. Blackwood said the Park Board will take an active role in the search and selection process for the next Parks Director, along with the City of Springfield. 

For media inquiries, contact Jenny Fillmer Edwards, Public Information Administrator for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, at 417-224-5510 (mobile).

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