Chris Gensic, Parks and Trails Planner, City of Charlottesville
Your job title is Parks and Trails Planner – what, in your own words, would you say you do?
I work to build a system of connected bike and hiking trails around the city between all parks and schools and business/commercial destinations. I also guide the public planning process for parkland renovations (recent examples are McIntire, Tonsler, Azalea, Rives), purchase new parklands (we’ve added 150 acres in the past 5-6 years), and also am involved in urban forestry planning and staff the Tree Commission, as well as a myriad of related projects such as volunteer management, stream cleanups, transportation planning, etc.
What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?
The best part is seeing trails and parklands become permanent and legal, which is literally turning the map of Charlottesville greener forever and also watching people enjoy new parks and trails, especially kids. I used to love hiking and biking in the woods as a kid.
The most difficult is balancing multiple public desires with limited time and resources and staying patient while working on projects that can take many years to complete. It is also sometimes difficult to separate myth and rumor from reality and fact in Charlottesville, which can make the public conversation seem overly-extreme at times, even for relatively simple topics.
How does your job most directly impact the average person?
By providing space to recreate or simply enjoy the outdoors in the City.
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the City?
Acquiring the Hartman Mill property (because I like old grist mills), and working with goats at Pen Park (photo is me with a newborn from that project).
What is a little-known fact about you?
I used to help design weapons for the Navy and also worked at the Pentagon for a year.