The City of Ocala has hired a new director of recreation and parks.
After a nationwide recruitment process, Preston Pooser accepted the role of director in August and began his duties as director of Ocala Recreation and Parks Sept. 8. Prior to joining the Ocala team, Pooser served as the parks and recreation director for Deerfield Beach since April 2019.
In his role as director, Pooser is responsible for a department of 65 employees and operations that include management of parks operations and maintenance; central business district maintenance; recreation and aquatic facilities and programming; event services; golf, tennis and other sports facilities; and cultural arts and sciences facilities and programs.
Pooser brings an extensive knowledge of recreation and park services and has 30 years of experience in the field. During the past 25 years, he has served in a director role for several cities including the Woodstock, Ga.; Orange Beach, Ala.; and Laurel, Miss. He is a certified parks and recreation executive through the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).
“Joining the City of Ocala and meeting the leaders and employees of this organization has been a tremendous honor. I am grateful for the opportunity to join this group of individuals who work so hard to serve the community,” said Pooser. “As the director of this department, I look forward to carrying out the Recreation and Parks vision for the future, leading with responsiveness, and working collectively with my peers. The City of Ocala has an outstanding Recreation and Parks Department and I’m looking forward to leading it into the future.”
Originally from Winter Haven, Pooser graduated from Winter Haven High School in 1985 and attended Oklahoma State University, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreation Management in 1990. In his spare time, Pooser enjoys spending time with his wife Kathi and fishing. Together, they have four children – Hunter, Aaron, Beth and Mackenzie. They also recently welcomed a newborn grandson named Weston to the family.
Retiring director, Kathy Crile, has served Ocala for 32 years and has been the Recreation and Parks director since 2008. Crile began her career in the city’s engineering department and transitioned to the recreation and parks department, where she grew into the role of director.
Being a part of the City of Ocala organization has allowed Crile a front-row seat to the changes that have occurred over the years. She said she is ready to spend more time with her family but will remain active in the community and be supportive to the city that has shaped and challenged her during the past three decades.
“I expect to continue to advocate for recreation, parks, heritage and cultural arts services in the community and to be a citizen resource,” said Crile, who will retire at the end of September.