By Danielle Ray, Senior Reporter
Recent transplant Scott Morris wasted no time jumping in to serve his new hometown.
Morris, who moved to Princeton from New York City with his family eight months ago, officially started his new role as the new part time Parks and Recreation Department director in May.
“I am very excited to be taking on this role,” he said. “I’ve been curious and interested ever since I was selected to be on the committee, with the absence of a permanent director.”
Longtime town resident Ed Carlson volunteered last October to help run the parks and recreation department, which had been without a director and essentially dormant for some time. Morris was a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission since shortly after closing on their house, and recently resigned from the commission to take the director position
“I was confident in my background and experience, however nervous with my newness to the community,” he said of the inspiration behind applying for the job. “Everyone on the committee is very committed and really such great people that I just felt fortunate to get to be a part of helping to drive the parks and rec agenda for such a community. In reality it comes down to the people trying to affect the change, and we have a good cast of players working to make our parks and rec in Princeton something worthwhile and enriching for the people in the Princeton community. I am fortunate to be a part of it.”
Morris is originally from Texas, and after high school he was recruited to play college baseball at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. He finished up his college career as an assistant baseball coach at McMurry University, also in Abilene, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education.
Morris brings years of recreation and hospitality experience with him. While living in Brooklyn for 16 years he was in the hospitality industry as an executive chef and culinary director for almost 13 years, and the Director of Food and Beverage for Prospect Park in Brooklyn for over two years, which was designed and built by the creators of Central Park in Manhattan.
“I was directly involved in almost every event that took place,” he said. “I managed an ice-skating rink in the winter, paddle boats and canoes in the summer, four season tennis center, Prospect Park Audubon, carousel, baseball and soccer fields, movie in the park, Symphony in the Park, and a number of fundraising galas that were staples in the yearly calendar.”
He also volunteered with a non-profit, New York Cares, to help create a cooking and urban gardening program for an elementary school in Brooklyn.
An avid runner and fitness enthusiast, Morris said that he and his family “love the outdoors” and going hiking, skiing, biking, and kayaking. His wife, who is originally from the Lancaster area, is the Assistant Principal at Nashoba Regional High School, and they have two sons – Wesley, age six, and Beau, age three.
Morris said that while the process of becoming the director “was lengthy,” he was confident having already been doing parks and recreation work with the commission and learning about the position “from such experienced committee people” including Wayne Adams, Kelton Burbank, and Carlson.
“It was challenging being on the commission in the beginning because of COVID and all we could do was the monthly meeting,” Morris said. “Now that we are starting to get back to normal and spring and summer programs are starting back up, everyone seems excited to get to work reviving the parks and rec duties and activities. I am doing what I can to help fill in some gaps and start the process of planning some great community events with the awesome Parks and Rec Committee group we have.”
Morris said he has several goals as the parks and recreation director, including reestablishing “some of the programs that have been successful in the past, to generate new excitement around the events that parks and rec are developing and involved in, and to be a positive influence on the community by consistently looking for ways enhance and improve every area that parks and rec has under its umbrella.”
He and the commission members are organizing a 5K fundraiser race slated for August 28 that has been approved by the Selectboard.
“We are working with the Wachusett Running Club to help raise some money for the parks and recreation improvements of Princeton,” Morris said. “There will be a raffle at the end and some festivities that are still in the planning phase, but we are excited to announce that. We are also looking at doing some events throughout the summer such as On Common Movie Night, possibly a haunted house, a revival of the winter carnival, and the ice-skating rink is making a comeback this winter as well.”
Morris said he is more than ready to get started and continue planning the upcoming and future parks and recreation projects, programs, and events.
“We have a great group of people on the commission that are the backbone of the parks and rec department, and we are looking forward to getting outside and enjoying this great town and being creative with all the resources and activities that it has to offer.”
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Scott Morris at a race he ran in New York City in 2019.
COURTESY: Scott Morris