Former Metro Parks director looks back at career - WSMV Channel 4

Former Metro Parks director looks back at career

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Jim Fyke Jim Fyke
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Jim Fyke would never call himself a tree hugger, but for the last 47 years, parks have been his business.

Walkers, golfers, tennis players and cyclists never had a better friend behind the scenes.

“Most people think as the park director, that you do nothing but play,” Fyke said. “There’s a lot more to it than that. I always said, when I’m working, everyone is playing.”

Fyke said he is well aware that negotiating big land development business deals is gritty, hardcore work.

For Fyke, it’s mostly an office job, even though he is fighting for Nashville’s outdoors.

“God’s only made so much green grass,” Fyke said. “You put a building on it, you’ll never have it again.”

Fyke led Metro Parks beginning in the 1970s. At the time, there were 57 parks on 5,800 acres. There are now more than 100 on more than 10,000 acres.

The Centennial Sportsplex, marinas and greenways have all happened under Fyke’s watch. He has also earned countless awards for his work.

“We’re very grateful that greenways exist now,” said Gretta Gaines of Nashville. “They connect you and you can go for really long bike rides, go along the river and see Nashville. So it’s a great way to see the city.”

Fyke has been too busy to enjoy his work, but hopes that now he will have more time to take a stroll through the parks.

“I’m probably not a stroller, per se,” he said. “I’m more active than strolling.”

Fyke still isn’t fully retired. Every time he tries to retire, Metro or the state asks him to come back for a bit and help.

Tuesday, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and former Gov. Phil Bredesen will lead a ceremony that will officially name a piece of the parks the Jim Fyke Administrative Complex.

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