By CAYLA intern Doni Palma-Roberto
If you have ever been on a greenway or at a park and wondered how concrete paths and nature came to coexist so naturally, you can thank Buncombe County Recreation Services for helping us interact peacefully with our environment. July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and we are highlighting some of our dedicated Recreation Services staff.
Name: Karla Furnari
Position: Recreation Services Planner 1
Planning walking and bike paths is more than just making unkempt areas look pretty. Karla Furnari gives us meaningful insight on the importance of park planning. Her interest in this work started in grad school when she was introduced to pedestrian planning. Ever since, she has especially been interested in how the creation of greenways can connect low-income communities to accessible, environmentally-friendly transportation that also expands connectivity. Karla says greenways are great at providing options for people who don’t have a vehicle and promoting exercise by making walkways accessible to anyone since greenways facilitate community engagement by providing thoroughfares from outlying communities to cities.
Karla’s work also touches on other areas. She runs Buncombe County's Special Olympics and believes that connecting with the community gives the people a confidence boost.
In August, Karla will have worked as a planner with Recreation Services for six years. She says her favorite part of the job is being energized and encouraged by her helpful and “amazing” coworkers whose communication allows them to work “very well together.” While Recreation Services has many programs and resources for our youth, in the future she plans on expanding and engaging more with kids and teens. Karla also hopes to see more parks available as people are becoming more active as COVID starts to ease. She also wants to maintain an emphasis on giving people an opportunity to exercise as she believes health and fitness are important.
Since July is National Parks and Recreation Month, it’s important for us to appreciate this hardworking department that creates various services and enjoyable spaces across the County. As for Karla’s part as a Planner, her job often goes unnoticed by the public. A thing she would like people to know is that the process a planner has to go through to get things done is “not a linear path,” it goes “back-and-forth.” For greenways, you need permits and go through a regulatory process which takes time. It doesn’t matter if you have the money to build something, you can’t build it right away without going through a lengthy process. Karla and her department work hard to get projects done via efficient ways that will beneficially affect the community.