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Cheely, Parks and Recreation Director, Retires

Ned CheelyJuly 14, 2009
Contact: Veda McMullen
               James City County Parks & Recreation
Communications Coordinator
Phone: (757) 259-5415
Fax: (757) 259-5420


Ned Cheely, Director of James City County Parks and Recreation, has announced his retirement effective July 31. Cheely has served for more than 34 years in local government, all of those as a director of parks and recreation. He has served as James City County’s director for 19 years. Cheely’s innovative leadership, especially that of collaboration with other community services agencies in focusing on youth and teen intervention, community connections and affordable child care, has transformed parks and recreation services in James City County.

Under Cheely’s leadership, the initiation and completion of many park facility projects flourished through citizen approval of bond referendums. Highlights include:

  • In 1994, County voters approve funding for the Recreation Center expansion and a District park, now known respectively as the James City/Williamsburg Community Center and Freedom Park. The James River Community Center opens as a unique partnership between the County and Schools.  Powhatan Creek Park also opens.
  • In 1996, the community center expansion is completed. The Board of Supervisors also approves the purchase of the Warhill Tract.
  • In 1998, the Greensprings Trail opens as a pilot program to provide a 2.7-mile interpretive trail that also serves as an outdoor education classroom.
  • In 1999, the Warhill Sports Complex opens.
  • In 2001, the Skate Park opens as a citizen initiative with Board approval and funding.  
  • In 2002, Freedom Park opens. Chickahominy Riverfront Park also opens as the County’s first waterfront park. The Greenway Master Plan is also adopted.
  • In 2005, citizens approve a $15-million bond referendum to continue the 1993 Master Plan initiatives at the Warhill Sports Complex, Freedom Park, Chickahominty Riverfront Park and Greenways and Trails. Work continues to balance the preservation of our nation’s history while saving and developing parcels for parks and open space. 

Cheely is most proud of the community partnerships forged during his tenure. The added value and benefits of partnerships has brought more athletic and leisure activities to citizens, funded through collaboration versus tax dollars. Many of James City County’s initiatives serve as model programs throughout the state.

  • An innovative public/private partnership that created the Williamsburg Indoor Sports Complex.
  • Through formal agreements, facilities are provided to 15 independent organizations that offer sports and hobby groups to the community. In return, they contribute annually to established trust funds so that all children can play.
  • Kidsburg, a community-grown playground in James City County, was designed by children and built by their parents and community members.
  • The County’s first Skate Park, a 10,000 square-foot park planned and completed in 18-months. 
  • Freedom Park was recognized nationally as the site of earliest free black settlement. Hiking enthusiasts and cleared the Park’s 1.5 miles of multiuse trails. Members of the Eastern Virginia Mountain Bike Association completed a 3.2-mile mountain bike trail.
  • Williamsburg Botanical Garden volunteers donated their time to plan a garden on site.

James City County has won numerous awards for its outstanding parks, facilities and programming. The Parks and Recreation Division is a 7-time Gold Medal Finalist, a prestigious award for parks and recreation facilities.

In addition, Cheely holds numerous professional affiliations and awards including induction into the American Academy of Parks and Recreation Administrators (AAPRA) in 2000. The AAPRA is an organization of practitioners and scholars committed to the advancement of the park and recreation field. Membership is limited to 125 practitioners nationwide.  

Cheely notes, “None have been more gratifying than the years I spent in James City County working with citizens and staff to improve the quality of life for families, and truly making a difference. Over the years, my belief is that much of what gets done in life, as well as at work, is through personal and professional relationships, not organizations.  It’s been my good fortune to work in a position within the County that has afforded me and my family to build many wonderful relationships in this community during the last nineteen years.  Although jobs end, the great news is that good relationships continue, even in retirement.”


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