With addition of Shawnee Indian Mission, new Fairway parks director looks to expand programming

Brice Soeken is Fairway's new Parks and Recreation Director.
Brice Soeken is Fairway’s new Parks and Recreation Director.

There have been a lot of changes in the Fairway Parks and Recreation department over the past few months. In September, the city council appointed long-serving Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Nogelmeier to become the new city administrator when Kathy Axelson retired after two-and-a-half years in the position.

The city then hired Brice Soeken to fill the Parks and Recreation Director role, and brought in Jennifer Laughlin for a new position to help oversee the Shawnee Indian Mission site, which the city assumed management of over the summer.

After a few months in the position, Soeken said he’s excited about the opportunities Fairway’s Parks and Recreation department will have to serve residents in the future. He answered a few questions from us earlier this month:

How did you get started in Parks and Recreation management?

Brice Soeken: Growing up in Lyons, KS, my father was the P&R Director for the Lyons Rec Commission (he is still there), so I’ve been in the P&R world since a very young age. I’ve been a professional in Parks and Recreation for just under a decade, with stops at the Blue Valley Recreation Commission in Overland Park, KS and the Baldwin City Recreation Commission in Baldwin City, KS.

What attracted you to the Fairway position?

Soeken: Even though Fairway might be located in the middle of a large metropolitan area, it is still a very small and tight-knit community. I’m from a very small town as well, so I understand and thrive in a community where everyone knows your name. The Fairway Parks and Recreation Department has tripled in size in the last 7 months, so I feel very honored to be a part of a growing, energetic and hardworking team.

What are your goals for Fairway Parks and Rec in the coming years?

Soeken: One of our biggest goals will be to offer more programs and events to our patrons than we ever have. With Jordan Swoyer (Recreation Supervisor – Aquatics) and Jennifer Laughlin (Coordinator of Museum Experience & Programs at the Shawnee Indian Mission) on staff, the Parks & Recreation Department will be able to offer many new and exciting programs and events. We are also very excited to be managing the day-to-day operations of the Shawnee Indian Mission, and a great deal of our programming focus will go to this amazing site. Our goal will be to bring more people and attention to the Shawnee Indian Mission, which is one of the most impressive and important historical sites in the State of Kansas. The Fairway Pool was recently renovated, making it one of the premier outdoor pool facilities in the area. Our goal for the Fairway Pool will be to continue maintaining and improving this wonderful facility, as it will serve patrons for years to come.

Fairway took over management of the Shawnee Indian Mission historical site in the summer of 2016.
Fairway took over management of the Shawnee Indian Mission historical site in the summer of 2016.