Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Langlois recently won the mParks 2019 Recreation Leadership Award.

Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Langlois recently won the mParks 2019 Recreation Leadership Award.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Longtime parks head gets mParks leadership award

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 8, 2019

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Sterling Heights Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Langlois remembers the importance his family placed on his participation in parks and recreation activities at an early age. 

He ran in a Clinton Township harvest run when he was 5 and was part of the township’s summer day camp program growing up. As a teen, he volunteered to help the township with haunted houses, Easter egg hunts and its tree lighting ceremony. 

“I remember going to breakfast with Santa, all of those kind of things,” he said.

Years later, Langlois has transitioned from enjoying parks programs to leading them. And for his contributions to the field, his peers in the broader parks management community recently honored him. 

During the mParks Conference and Trade Show Jan. 29-Feb. 1 in Kalamazoo, Langlois received the group’s 2019 Recreation Leadership Award. The mParks group’s longer name is the Michigan Recreation and Park Association.

Langlois, 39, called the award flattering because it came from peer nomination within the state’s community of parks officials. He said he has previously sat on several parks association committees. 

“(It) has been gratifying to hear what fellow professionals are thinking about what we’re doing in Sterling Heights,” he said. “To hear people talk about how awesome Sterling Heights is and just the quality, and being amazed at how our residents and voting public supported Recreating Recreation and how it’s taken shape … really makes me proud to be part of it.”

Langlois graduated in 2002 from Calvin College in Grand Rapids with a bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation, and business.

“I’ve always been somebody who likes to serve the public,” he said. “When I looked for a college and saw there was an opportunity to take that course in college, the lightbulb almost clicked on.”

He said he started working at Sterling Heights in October 2005 as a recreation supervisor. About 13 ½ years later, he looks back on both the challenging and rewarding times.

“Our biggest challenge was everybody’s challenge — when the recession hit,” he said. “We lost a lot of employees due to attrition. We were trying to keep our department afloat with less employees.

“We wanted to be doing more, and our residents were looking for more. But we were really handcuffed by what was being allocated to our department. The challenge was staying motivated, staying positive.”

Although Langlois said the department has since been built back up, it’s an ongoing challenge to make sure that parks and recreation remain relevant to the community.

Langlois said the highlight of his city career has been the 2016 voter approval of the Recreating Recreation initiative and the transformation of Dodge Park. He added that the campaign’s enthusiasm has been contagious, and even programs such as the Sterling Frights Halloween and the Sterlingfest Art and Music Fair have benefited. 

“It’s had a positive effect on our programs and services,” he said. “We even have seen an uptick in our general programming.” 

In a statement, Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool credited Langlois’ mParks award with his stewardship of the rollout of the $50 million millage-funded Recreating Recreation campaign.

A new skate park, a farmers market pavilion, an ice rink, a splash pad, an amphitheater, a mini soccer field and more have arisen due to the ongoing initiative. A dog park and a new community center are still in the works, and progress is being made to improve the city’s five major and 26 neighborhood parks by the year’s end, according to officials.

“It’s by far the largest recreational improvement initiative in our city’s history, and it simply would not have been possible without Kyle’s great work,” Vanderpool said.

Langlois said he wants to continue innovating so that his department can help form the social fabric of the community, whether it’s at the Sterlingfest Art and Music Fair or the Music in the Park summer concert series. He said he looks forward to proposing ways to maintain the park improvements the city has been making so that future generations can enjoy them.

“What I’m most excited for is continuing to adapt and find new ways for people to take advantage of what Parks and Recreation has to offer,” he said.

At the Feb. 5 City Council meeting, Councilwoman Barbara Ziarko praised Langlois for his leadership and latest award. 

“Following Kyle around for the last couple of years, with all of the improvements that we’ve made to the park, with the new buildings, he really has been a great leader in coordinating all of the efforts, bringing everybody together as a team,” Ziarko said. “And he is still going to keep working at it until we have that rec center across the street.”

Find out more about the Sterling Heights Parks and Recreation Department by visiting www.myshpr.net or by calling (586) 446-2700. Find out more about mParks by visiting www.mparks.org.

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