FUQUAY-VARINA — The town’s parks and recreation director is giving up his desk and dedication for green space and swapping them for another kind of green: plants and flowers.
After six years of overseeing about $10 million in parks and facility upgrades in Fuquay-Varina, Woody Harvey, 57, is retiring.
He plans to work part time as a delivery driver for C. Ray Floral Designs in his hometown of Lexington. The company is run by his long-time girlfriend, and the move will allow Harvey to be closer to his aging parents.
His last day was Friday, but the decision to leave wasn’t easy for Harvey.
“I came to Fuquay-Varina and I got a second family here,” he said. “The bonds here are ones I didn’t expect.”
Harvey has about 28 years of experience in parks and recreation. Heading toward the 30-year mark as a municipal employee got him thinking about retirement. He started crunching the numbers and looked at pending town projects, and he decided now was the best time to end this phase of his career.
“I’ve laid the groundwork, and I think I’ve left the town in a good position,” he said.
Work on a master pedestrian plan has already kicked off. Construction of the town’s first dog park is underway, and plans have been developed for Falcon Park, Mineral Spring Park and the Museum Complex park.
During his time in Fuquay-Varina, Harvey helped oversee the $3.5 million completion of the community center expansion; upgrades to South Park and Action Park; and construction of the town’s first greenway. He negotiated joint-use agreements for three soccer fields at Herbet Akins Road Elementary School and launched the town’s first youth recreation sports program.
“Woody is responsible for bringing the town’s parks and recreation into the 21st century, and we are forever grateful for his vision and service,” said Town Manager Jon Barlow.
Until the town hires someone to fill Harvey’s spot, Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Jonathan Cox will serve as interim director. Cox started with the town in 2008 and has more than 17 years of experience.
Besides working with town staff, Harvey said the best part of the job has been getting to put smiles on people’s faces through great programs and services.
When Harvey arrived in Fuquay-Varina in July 2007, the town’s recreation brochure consisted of a handful of pages. This year, it has about 20 pages of programming.
“This job gave me the opportunity to look at the needs of the town and to address them in ways to raise the quality of life,” Harvey said. “You’re in the recreation business trying to make people have (fun). Being in the floral business ... I’ll get to do the same thing.”
Although he’s moving across the state, Harvey likely won’t stay away for too long. He’s already put in volunteer hours in Fuquay-Varina, working the Celebrate Fuquay-Varina festival last weekend.
“I’ll be back as a visitor. I’ve got to check on my projects and make sure they’re getting done,” Harvey joked.