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The City Journals

Mega-dose of Murray in new Park Director’s DNA

Mar 07, 2018 02:43PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Newly appointed Murray Parks and Recreation Director Kim Sorenson brings 35 years of Murray experience. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

Murray, Murray, and more Murray would indeed sum up newly installed Director of Murray Parks and Recreation Kim Sorenson’s life. 

“Friends claim my upbringing is boring and in a shell because I never left Murray,” said Sorenson.

In January, Sorenson was tapped by Mayor Blair Camp to fill the role that Doug Hill formerly held. When Hill was made Chief Administrative Officer that opened the vacancy for Sorenson, one of Murray’s longest-serving employees, to become director.

He was born here; attended Longview Elementary, Hillcrest Junior High, and Murray High; lived in two Murray homes during his childhood; and he and his wife, Cindy, have had four homes since they married, all in Murray. Now his son Dylan is continuing the Sorenson–Murray connection as an officer with the Murray City Police Department.

“Yep, never lived outside Murray. Boring? Some may think, but we have loved and cherished every day,” jokes Sorenson. 

He did have one big life event outside Murray, which was getting a degree at the University of Utah in Recreation Management; of course, while living in Murray.

The year 1983 was pivotal in Sorenson’s life; he got his first job with Murray City and met his mentor, former Mayor Lynn Pett. Back then, Pett was parks director, and Parks Supevisor Bill Crocker interviewed Sorenson to be a maintenance worker. Sorenson had fudged his age on his application, stating he was 16. But his conscience nagged him, and he decided to fess up.

“I felt bad about lying about my age, so on the first day of work I went into Mr. Pett’s office and told him I was only 15. He learned I turned 16 in a few weeks and told me not to worry about it. That began a long-cherished friendship with Lynn.”

Sorenson continued working part-time for the parks department up to his first year of college, where he was studying to be an accountant. Crocker approached him and asked if he was interested in a full-time position with the parks department. He was promoted to lead worker, and it was then that he switched his major from accounting to parks and recreation management. For the past 20 years, Sorenson has been park superintendent. 

Sorenson has been involved with most major park projects in Murray, including the creation of the Jordan River Parkway. He was involved with construction of the Parkway from planting the first cottonwood tree along the trail, to the completion of the Willow Pond urban fishing lake 20 years later.

“The Parkway is such a jewel to Murray City. It is, without argument, the best section of the Jordan River trail throughout the Salt Lake Valley. Murray residents are fortunate to have this in their back or front yard.”

He was also extensively involved in bringing the Babe Ruth World Series to Utah for the first time in 2009, as well as the construction of the Murray Park outdoor pool and the remodel of the Murray Amphitheater.

As director, Sorenson intends to update the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which hasn’t been updated for 20 years. Sorenson will involve citizens, elected officials, and user groups to evaluate current and potential facility uses and benefits, plan for a long-term vision with sustainable operations and inform elected officials of the community’s desire for park facilities and recreational services.   

Former director Doug Hill praised Sorenson. “Kim has lived his whole life in Murray City and worked in the parks and recreation area for over 35 years. As a result, Kim is familiar with the community, city facilities, and programs and employees. His vast knowledge and helpful attitude will benefit the quality of life for Murray citizens.”