The Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for developing and maintaining the Borough’s park system, its indoor recreational facilities, and for providing year-round recreational programs to meet the diverse needs of the community. It offers programs for all ages, from tots to seniors, and the disabled. The department also hosts and assists in the presentation of a number of special events, as well as supervision of the
Staff in the Administration Division consists of the Director, a Parks & Recreation Manager, Senior Secretary II, Secretary, Facility Supervisor, one full time and two part-time Rec. Specialists and two full time custodians. This Division operates the Big Dipper Ice Arena and outdoor rinks. The Big Dipper is open seven days a week, approximately 15 hours per day. The Division also sponsors, and/or assists with the production of a number of community special events. This division is the policy and procedures arm of the Department. It coordinates and focuses the efforts of the other three divisions and manages the contract for the John A. Carlson Community Activity Center. It also functions as the central point for all financial responsibilities and is the department's communications point with the public. This Division also has the primary responsibility of convening, hosting and supporting the Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission, Senior Advisory Commission, Trails Advisory Commission, and the John A. Carlson Community Activity Center Advisory Board.
Pioneer Park is a 44-acre historic theme park consisting of recreational and educational opportunities. The primary function of Pioneer Park is to preserve and enhance the historical and recreational atmosphere of the park for the benefit of the community, visitors, merchants, and resident users. In addition to maintaining the park, it manages over thirty concession and resident user contracts as well as acting as host/coordinator for a number of community based special events. Permanent staffing at the park consists of the Park Manager, a Senior Secretary IV, three Parks Caretaker, and two seasonal Grounds Keepers.
The Aquatics Division is responsible for the operation and programming for three aquatic facilities along with recreational and social programming for the physically and mentally challenged individuals and senior citizens. The permanent staff include a program manager, three facility supervisors, an Adaptive program coordinator, a senior activities coordinator, three full time lifeguards, 13 part time lifeguards, 5 part time Adaptive Recreation Specialists.
Hamme and Wescott Swimming Pools are shared with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District who teach water safety programming for junior high school students. All three aquatic facilities offer open swim, lap swim, swimming lessons for adults and children along with water aerobic classes. Public swim programs at Hamme and Wescott Pools are limited to evenings after 4 P.M. and weekends during the school year. Public programming at these two facilities increase during the summer months. Mary Siah Recreation Center is open during the day for public programs. The facility includes; a co-ed sauna and hot tub, a small weight room. All pool staff are certified by the American Red Cross in lifeguarding, water safety instruction, CPR and First Aid. Contract instructors offer specialty classes such as Middle Eastern Dance, Tai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, scuba diving, competitive swimming, Qigong, yoga, and tennis.
Adaptive Recreation provides a variety of recreational, social and leisure opportunities for all people who experience disabilities. Adaptive programs include swimming, walking, weight training, bowling and seasonal programs such as ice skating, fishing, skiing, biking, outings to community events and restaurants, along with kid specific programs. These programs are available at no charge to registered participants. Participants are expected to pay for meals and personal expenses incurred during community events. All adaptive recreation staff are trained in First Aid and CPR.
The senior activities program offers recreational and social opportunities for all residents of the Borough age 60 and over. Senior programs include exercise classes in Fairbanks and North Pole, indoor walking, bowling, beginning computer classes, ice fishing, summer picnics, baseball games, farmers market, live theater shows and holiday light tours. These programs are available at no charge to registered participants. Participants are expected to pay for meals and personal expenses incurred at community events. The Senior Activities Coordinator is trained in CPR and First Aid.
The Parks Maintenance Division consists of three sections supervised by the Parks Maintenance Superintendent which include; Parks Maintenance, Birch Hill Recreation Area, and Chena Lake Recreation Area. The Parks Maintenance section consists of; a Parks Project office; employing two full-time Project Coordinators, a Trails office; that consists of one full-time Trails Coordinator, a Maintenance Shop with; Maintenance Manager, six permanent Parks Caretakers, one permanent caretaker/mechanic, four seasonal Groundskeepers, two seasonal Parks Caretakers, and thirty summer seasonal employees. All operations are located at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
Birch Hill Recreation Area is a Nordic skiing complex comprised of a state of the art ski center and 32 km of groomed trails. Birch Hill attracts Nordic skiers worldwide to the Fairbanks area. Permanent staff consists of one facility supervisor.
Chena Lake Recreation Area
Chena Lake Recreation Area offers an escape from the busyness of everyday life. With over 2,100 acres to explore and enjoy, Chena Lake Recreation Area has activities for all visitors. Chena Lake Recreation Area covers over 2,000 acres and has two distinct personalities; the Lake Park, with a 260 acre lake the River Park, covering 4 miles of the Chena River. Lake Park hosts three volleyball courts, one horseshoe pit, a playground, multiple day use picnic sites with tables and fire rings, two covered pavilions, two changing room/warm up buildings, two designated swimming areas with sandy beaches, a boat rental, two fishing docks (one handicap accessible), a lake boat launch, potable water stations and restrooms.
River Park is stretched along 4 miles of the south bank of the Chena River and hosts one volleyball court, one horseshoe pit, one covered pavilion, one changing room/warm up building, a 4.5 kilometer self guided nature trail, river boat launch, potable water stations, restrooms, and multiple day use picnic sites with tables and fire rings. During the winter months Chena Lake Recreation Area offers groomed classical cross-country ski trails with a 2km, 4.5km, and 7km loop as well as a multi-use trail with a 3.8, 5.5, 6.5, 9.5 and 12 mile loops for snow machining, ski-joring, dog mushing, walking, running, etc. Chena Lake also offers four ice-fishing houses. Permanent staff consists of one Chena Lake Manager, and one Park Caretaker.