The City of Pelham recently welcomed a new Director of Parks and Recreation. Brian Cooper is a 36-year veteran of the field and brings a wealth of knowledge and ideas to serve the residents of Pelham.
A native of Pensacola, Florida, Cooper spent the last ten years as the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Pensacola. The father of four sons and grandfather of twin grandsons is no stranger to Pelham, having called this area home for over 18 of the past 28 years. “Before working in Pensacola, I served as the Director of Campus Recreation for the University of Alabama at Birmingham for 16 years, and before that, I was Assistant Director at UNC-Wilmington” stated Cooper. “I consider this area one of my two homes. Pensacola is home, and so is Pelham. My sons went to school here. I officiated high school football here for many years. This is a great community. I absolutely love it here.” Most recently, Cooper worked with The World Games this summer, managing 12 sports.
Cooper holds two Bachelor’s degrees from the University of West Florida and earned a Master’s Degree in Parks and Recreation Administration from Eastern Kentucky University. He counts his work with UAB as a career highlight. “I enjoyed helping to build the momentum and support for UAB’s Campus Recreation Center. I like to see former student employees grow up to become contributing members of the community.”
Here in Pelham, Cooper is ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work. After he has a solid grasp of the staff, budget, park system, and facility operations, he plans to focus on projects that are approved in the upcoming city budget. “I am excited about working on the Pelham Greenway and bringing new amenities to the city, such as a splash pad, pickleball courts, and a new playground at City Park.”
He praised the existing facilities and staff at Pelham Parks and Recreation. “Both the Recreation Center and the Senior Center are well-designed and currently meeting the needs of our community. The athletic fields are very well maintained. The staff responsible for each area is doing a great job managing and maintaining them. City Park is remarkable and Fun Go Holler Park is a great gem next to the Pelham Racquet Club. In my opinion, the flooding issues at Creekside, Coker, and Carroll Parks obviously provide hurdles for future development. However, I believe with some creative thinking, we can make improvements to these parks in the coming years that will inspire people in those neighborhoods to get out and enjoy the parks within a short walk or bike ride of their homes.” Cooper believes the current park system compliments facilities like Ballantrae Golf Club and the Pelham Racquet Club, which he called “true assets for the entire community and region alike.”
Cooper’s long-term goals for Pelham Parks and Recreation involve the continued development of the park system. “As I mentioned, development in several parks has been hindered in the past by flooding issues. I hope to find ways to bring life to those parks in spite of these threats. Also, I would like to see more opportunities for adult recreation in the city.”
With Pelham’s reputation as a premier location for both outdoor and indoor recreation, it seems the future of Pelham Parks and Recreation is in good hands. “There is a great team in place here at the City of Pelham. I really believe in the leadership of the City. We are fortunate as residents to have such as great Council, Mayor, and city administration. The staff at Parks and Recreation is outstanding,” stated Cooper. “I am impressed with the direction Pelham is heading. I plan to be here for a long time.”