Dickinson is new NW rec director

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 6/19/24

Jessica Dickinson officially began her tenure as the Town of New Windsor’s newest Director of Parks and Recreation on Monday, June 8. Dickinson was appointed as the recreation director during …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Dickinson is new NW rec director


Jessica Dickinson officially began her tenure as the Town of New Windsor’s newest Director of Parks and Recreation on Monday, June 8. Dickinson was appointed as the recreation director during the town’s regular meeting on Wednesday, June 5 with a unanimous vote. With only a few days under her belt, Dickinson is ready for the work ahead.

Originally from Florida, Dickinson began her career in parks and recreation in the City of West Palm Beach working in a variety of positions. At the age of 14, Dickinson recalled starting her own summer camp for fun with her friends to pass the time. She later attended Florida Atlantic University and obtained a degree in elementary education and taught at the elementary school level, mainly third grade. In the time she was not teaching, she was always going back to parks and recreation. After school programming, summer camps, out of school activities and special events was where Dickinson spent her time.

At the age of 25, Dickinson made the decision to move out of Florida and came to New York. It was in the Town of Union Vale in Dutchess County where she started in parks and recreation. After Union Vale, she joined the Pawling community, then the Town of East Fishkill before making a stop with the Dutchess County Youth Bureau. Dickinson is also a certified playground safety inspector. Outside of her work, Dickinson has two children, a son going off to college in the fall and daughter heading off to high school.

Dickinson takes the helm of the recreation department following the departure of previous recreation director Matt Veronesi, who served New Windsor for 18 years. Veronesi went on to the Town of Clarkstown as their newest superintendent of parks and recreation.

Dickinson said she had the opportunity to meet Veronesi during his tenure in town through the Hudson Valley Leisure Services Association and was able to establish a professional relationship. Even back then, Dickinson recalled Veronesi discussing Community Day and other ideas for the department in New Windsor.

Dickinson worked with Veronesi during the pandemic, when they along with other recreation professionals provided opportunities for kids to stay active during the summer months even while the world was on lockdown. Furthermore for Dickinson, she was drawn to the display of support for the recreation department from the town’s government body. “New Windsor was a town that really valued their parks and their recreation spaces and opportunities,” said Dickinson.

When news came that Veronesi would be moving on, Dickinson admitted she was surprised by the news because she did not expect it. With a new journey for Veronesi, Dickinson wishes him well.

“I’m very happy for him and his path and journey. I think he has a lot to share with other communities too, and that’s a really nice thing. And I pray he’s supported in the way that he was supported here, and I hope that he’s valued for all of his strengths in that way as well,” said Dickinson. “When this opportunity opened, I knew that I had to see if it would be a fit for me and have those conversations.”

Now as director, Dickinson is looking forward to working with the recreation master plan for the town, a document that the town can use to identify wants and needs for recreation, park types and sizes and related recreation information going forward. She has mainly had a chance to provide input on the plan from a consultant standpoint.

Goals that Dickinson would like to work on as director include seeing the teen center at Ruscitti Park once again become an active space for recreation for the youth. With pocket parks located in the town, she looks to continue the upkeep of these green spaces for the community. With plans to upgrade and expand Kristi Babcock Memorial Park, she looks forward to working towards potentially bringing indoor spaces for recreation and adding an aquatics facility like splash pads which have been brought forward during town meetings.

Heading into the summer months, Dickinson said she is looking forward to hosting her first summer camp session for the town but she would like to see detachment from technology, which she may receive resistance on. The purpose of this is to deter distractions and encourage youth to be engaged. This summer would also be Dickinson’s first year of managing the Community Day celebration, an annual staple in the New Windsor community. She sees potential for growth in the coming years.

Additionally, Dickinson would like to work towards new opportunities to engage community members who may not have been active previously and to listen and learn from the ideas and needs of residents. She encourages all families and residents of New Windsor to participate in their parks and recreational activities.

“Parks and Rec is everything. You can work with your local libraries, your police department, your farmers-market people, vendors, local business folks and it’s a really special place to be because you can just blend everybody together and figure out what they love to do, what they’re best at, and incorporate that into the fabric of your community,” said Dickinson. “I’m excited to work alongside the town board and the community, continue being a reflection of everybody’s needs, and just putting that in motion.”