Oklahoma City hires new parks and planning heads 

Aubrey Hammontree
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Doug Kupper will become the city’s new parks and recreation director. Aubrey Hammontree, who is currently interim planning director, will assume that position permanently.

Kupper is currently the parks and recreation director in Wichita, Kan., where he has served for 14 years.

“Probably one of the best projects I managed to execute [in Wichita] was we have the Central Riverside Park, which has been in existence since the 1890s,” Kupper said. “We did a $5 million renovation to the park system.”

Kupper also said he was proud of managing his department through lean economic times.

Couch said Kupper’s hiring brings a lot of experience and passion to the position.

“Kupper is a respected parks professional and has committed his entire career to the field,” Couch said in a statement. “He understands our city’s commitment to improving the quality of life for residents and is avid about bringing his passion and experience to Oklahoma City.”

Kupper, who will officially start May 27 and is replacing the retiring Wendel Whisenhunt, said he was looking forward to working in a city that appears to have a lot of synergy.

“The single biggest thing is it seems everyone [in OKC] is on the same page,” Kupper said. “From the elected officials to the citizens, they are all striving to make Oklahoma City a great place to live.”

Hammontree has served as interim planning director since 2013, following the announced departure of Russell Claus. Prior to her promotion, Hammontree has served the city for 14 years in various capacities.

“Community engagement, consensus-building and project implementation are Aubrey’s strong suits,” Couch said. “She has the vision and the drive needed to implement inner-city improvement strategies while addressing the city’s growth.”

Hammontree said she is eager to continue the momentum created over the past several years.

“We will be focused on several large-scale initiatives in the next few years, including the comprehensive plan, downtown strategic plans and our role in MAPS 3 projects,” Hammontree said. “I want to build on the success and momentum of targeted initiatives such as the Commercial District Revitalization Program and Strong Neighborhood Initiative.”

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