Our History


The Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation Department began in 1937 on the recommendation of the Board of Aldermen. Braswell Park was dedicated to the City as the first public recreational facility one year later.

With the recovery of the economy following the 1940's, park development quickly expanded with the incorporation of the Little Tar Heel League Basketball program in 1952. Several acres of land were added to the parks system soon after, and facilities were built as they were needed. There was a great demand for recreation as Rocky Mount continued to grow. In the early 1960's a comprehensive study of the parks system and department to direct the community along the proper course of development was compiled.

In 1976, the City of Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation Department completed its second comprehensive plan. This was an open space plan study that was a direct result of the Rocky Mount Land Development Plan (1975-1985). The Land Development Plan had indicated the need for a Comprehensive open Space Plan to address issues concerning "location, design and use of open space and recreational areas within the Rocky Mount Planning Area."

In 1999, the Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation Department experienced one of its greatest challenges ever, Hurricane Floyd. This event changed the department for ever. This traumatic event focused community attention on a host of important long-term issues and resulted in the reevaluation of the direction of many of the Parks and Recreation functions due to the need to rebuild facilities. Following this event, the Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation took several years to recover. As a result of this effort, the department experienced tremendous growth. Facilities such as the Imperial Centre, Rocky Mount Sports Complex, Martin Luther King Park, Stith Talbert, Sunset Park and Three Sister Parks, just to name a few, were either remodeled or built brand new.

Today, the Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation Department is stronger than ever. The department manages over 500 acres of parkland, two community centers, a senior center, four cemeteries, the Imperial Centre for the Arts & Sciences and the Rocky Mount Sports Complex just to name a few. Our mission continues to be to advance the quality of life of our citizens by providing positive, inclusive experiences through people, parks and programs. This mission continues to be guided by our value of I.D.E.A. (Innovation, Dynamic, Engaged and Aware).