David Howard at Jerome Brown Center

Making Brooksville Better

By Diane Bedard Posted on July 12, 2023

It was early, 7:30 a.m. I was attending the “Brooksville Matters” meeting, featuring the City of Brooksville Parks and Recreation Department Director. Natalie Kahler introduced David Howard as a wonderful influence in Brooksville’s revitalization, accomplishing much in his short tenure.

Within a few short months, Mr. Howard has brought two parks into the City’s portfolio and worked with a team to get the coveted “Trail Town” designation from the Florida Department of Greenways and Trails. His enthusiasm and commitment to the community is contagious.

A well-dressed gentleman with a winning smile addressed us. “Thank you. I could not have achieved any of this without the wonderful team I have, as well as the mentoring and cooperation of the City Manager and our City Council. It is a privilege to be a part of Brooksville at this time,” David Howard shared.

He explained that Parks and Recreation is a department that works to unify and provide activities for all residents of a city, regardless of age or location within that city. “We are working on a senior dance at the Jerome Brown Center. Who is interested in that?” David asked. Most people at the Bistro were over 40 and raised their hands.

“A city that has an active Parks and Recreation Department values its citizens and wants to provide for them. I want to work to provide value to business partnerships and community organizations,” he continued.

Jerome Brown Center mermaid
The Jerome Brown Community Center was built on the west end of Tom Varn Park in Brooksville. Image by Diane Bedard.

Getting to Know David Howard

I drove up to the Jerome Brown Center, a community center built on the western edge of Tom Varn Park around the year 2000, past a Mermaid from the Tale Trail, and was excited for my appointment to meet David Howard, Parks Director for the City of Brooksville.

Inside the Center is a gymnasium, classrooms, offices, and locker rooms. This is where David Howard works, amongst the people his department serves.

“I am the child of two educators in Daytona Beach, Florida, and I have a degree in Math and Finance,” David shared with me. “I have an eclectic background. I was a math teacher, did underground utilities construction, and am currently a Division One Basketball referee.”

david howard brooksville Parks and rec
David Howard, Director of Brooksville Parks and Recreation addresses the ‘Brooksville Matters’ group. His passion is evident and contagious! Image by Diane Bedard.

A Passion to Serve

David is one of the most passionate people I have met. He describes himself as a “faith-based person” who has been focused on helping others most of his life. While in college, he tutored students in math – gratis, he coached high school track, and he has a true passion for communities. There is a palpable positive energy in his presence.

“I believe that everyone is a superhero in their own right,” David shares with me. “God has given me talents and gifts, and He will use my gifts to fulfill His vision. Parks and Recreation is an important part of a community. It is my goal to use this Department to truly impact our community. For example, we held a Job Fair last month where we had 90 employers and 150 or so prospects. We worked with our prospects to prep them for interviews, we held a professional clothing drive and then helped them connect with employers.”

What Brought David Howard to Brooksville?

David was the Parks and Recreation Director in Lynn Haven, a small city north of Panama City. “It was over six hours drive from my family in Daytona Beach. I saw the position in Brooksville and applied. The first interview went well, so I drove to Brooksville for a second interview. As I came in on Jefferson Street, around the curve, I saw a vision that I had dreamt of two months earlier. I had asked God, ‘Where do you want me?’ This was His answer.”

Ron Snowberger, Brooksville’s City Manager, has been a very good mentor to David. They both share a passion and commitment to the city and its betterment. Today, when the City Manager must leave town or go on vacation, he leaves David Howard in charge.

jerome brown center gymnasium
Impacting the community is the purpose of this department’s mission. Image courtesy of City of Brooksville Parks & Recreation Department.

Brooksville Parks and Recreation Will Impact the Community

It is David’s goal for Brooksville Parks and Recreation to truly impact the community. “We can build better community through an inclusive environment. God uses my gifts to fulfill His vision. By bringing the community together, we will provide a level of cohesion where residents are proud to be a part of our city,” he explains.

The landscape of Parks and Recreation departments has changed over the past twenty years, and today indoor activities are part of its offerings. To that end, David Howard purchased a PlayStation 5 and donated to the city to create a Gaming Lounge in the Jerome Brown Center. It’s open Monday through Friday from 1-4 p.m. throughout the summer.

Brooksville 2023 job fair
Image courtesy of Brooksville Parks and Recreation.

David works hard to bring his mission to his employees, coworkers, and residents. “By bringing ideas to share the passion of how our community can become a better place to live, implementing smart growth, and providing a reason for residents to stay in Brooksville to enjoy themselves, we will echo the history and pride of this beautiful city,” David explains.

The City of Brooksville is preparing its first strategic plan for the parks and recreation system in collaboration with Ayres Associates, Inc. The City endeavors to provide and promote safe, healthy, and enriching recreational and educational opportunities that promote stewardship of Brooksville’s natural and cultural heritage. Residents and businesses were invited to an idea gathering meeting the evening of July 11.

Making Strides for Brooksville

Since assuming the City of Brooksville Parks and Recreation Director role, David Howard has been instrumental in acquiring the Trail Town certification for Brooksville from the Florida Department of Greenways and Trails, which the city had been trying to get for 5-10 years!

When asked how this was achieved, David was quick to share the credit with Charlene Kuhn, Ron Snowberger, the Good Neighbor Trail Advisory Board, and Natalie Kahler of Brooksville Main Street. “We went to the Florida Department of Greenways and Trails meeting in Tallahassee and worked together as a team.” Grant funding, promotion of the city, and free advertising of the city as a trail-friendly place is part of this designation.

Hernando Park, a 1.5 acres park with an amphitheater, playground, tennis courts, and picnic space with BBQs (also known as the Bandshell Park), was owned and operated by Hernando County Parks and Recreation but has now been brought back under City management.

Additionally, Brooksville Parks and Recreation will manage the cabins and events at Chinsegut Hill and Conference Center. “We are still working on the short- and long-term plans for Chinsegut Hill and lots of people have input, but I know it is going to be fantastic,” David shared.

Each month has a full calendar of events and activities to serve the residents of Brooksville through Parks and Recreation. Here is the July 2023 calendar.

Brooksville Parks and Recreation Leads with Service

Each month, Brooksville Parks and Recreation has several events that are free of charge, including a Super Soaker Battle on July 22, the indoor basketball court is available to kids during the day, and Monday and Tuesday nights are reserved for adults. There has been an ice cream social, family picnic, Brooksville cemetery cleanup day, family movie night, weekend blessings backpack food distribution, and the PlayStation 5 Gaming Lounge held at Jerome Brown Center and Tom Varn Park throughout July.

On August 12, a Backpack Giveaway with school supplies will be held at Jerome Brown Center for City Youth. “This program is an opportunity for businesses to partner with us to help the youth of Brooksville. By working together, we help our youth succeed,” David explains. Then he tells me about the movie planned for July 29, “It’s a superhero movie. Those are my favorites! I believe everyone is a superhero in their own right.”



Richard k Riley says

A clear, personal, and long article with great photos. Enjoyed it.

Florida's Original NatureCoaster™ says

Thanks, Richard.

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