Kent worker’s job is a walk in the park

Darren Patrick took a part-time job 10 years ago in city of Kent parks maintenance, so that he could save enough money to transfer to a four-year college from community college.

Parks-maintenance worker Darren Patrick oversees the condition of three ball fields for the City of Kent. He’s shown at Kent Memorial Park

Parks-maintenance worker Darren Patrick oversees the condition of three ball fields for the City of Kent. He’s shown at Kent Memorial Park

Darren Patrick loves his fields

Darren Patrick took a part-time job 10 years ago in city of Kent parks maintenance, so that he could save enough money to transfer to a four-year college from community college.

But when the city had a full-time opening in parks maintenance about a year later, Patrick was happy to take the job.

“I started as seasonal summer help,” said Patrick, now a parks-maintenance worker 3, as he sat in a dugout Tuesday at Kent Memorial Park where he oversees the condition of three ball fields. “I’ve been here ever since.”

Patrick, 32, who grew up in Covington and graduated from Kentwood High School in 1995, said he had no idea what kind of career he wanted when he attended Highline Community College and Green River Community College. He soon found the perfect fit in parks maintenance.

“I could never be one to sit in front of a computer all day,” Patrick said. “I like to be outside.”

Patrick spends plenty of time outside at Kent Memorial Park, 850 Central Ave. N., which features the Art Wright Field for baseball and two youth fields for girls’ fastpitch softball and Little League games.

Kentridge, Kent-Meridian and Kentwood play high school baseball games at the park. Kent Memorial also is the site for high school tournaments as well as summer tournaments. The Kent Bulldogs, an 18-and-under summer team, uses Art Wright Field for home games and tournaments.

“We can have as many as two to five games per day on the field,” Patrick said. “It’s busy at times.”

Patrick has worked about three years at Kent Memorial Park, after working five years in park maintenance at Russell Road Park. That city facility features five baseball and softball fields. Patrick replaced Dwight Rodarme at Kent Memorial Park after Rodarme switched to oversee park maintenance at the new Service Club Ballfields on the East Hill.

“I couldn’t wait for the guy to move on and I’d do my best to slide into his spot,” Patrick said about the move to Kent Memorial Park. “You’re in the spotlight for the city and everything you do is a direct reflection of your work.”

Brian Saw, the parks athletic crew supervisor, remembers when Patrick started with the city and had a chance for a full-time job with the regular parks-maintenance crew that maintains the rest of the city parks.

“He passed up a full-time position to stick on the athletic crew,” Saw said. “That showed he had the passion for that side of the work as opposed to the other crews. He chose something he loved over money at the time.”

Patrick hears a lot of positive feedback from baseball coaches and players about how much they enjoy the field conditions at Kent Memorial Park. Art Wright Field features a grass infield, as opposed to a dirt infield, and requires daily maintenance.

Patrick, or the part-time crew, mows the infield every day during the spring and summer and mows the outfield three or four times per week.

“He does a great job,” Saw said of Patrick’s work on the fields. “And he’s very good at working with the part-time help he gets to coordinate that.”

Patrick lives in Bonney Lake and commutes by train from Sumner. The park is just more than a mile from the Kent train station. He and his wife, Kristan, have been married for six years and have two young children. In addition to spending time with his family, Patrick loves to hunt and fish. He’s also a Seattle Mariners fan.

“Even though the team is horrible, I’m a big Mariners fan,” he said.

In addition to mowing the fields at Kent Memorial Park, Patrick also waters the fields and uses a special rake attached to a tractor to spread the infield dirt evenly. Nearly every day, Patrick gets on a ladder to change light bulbs in the left-field scoreboard when he’s not trying to keep the grass in top shape.

“There’s so much use, we have to have a real aggressive turf-management program,” Patrick said. “We constantly over seed, aerate and fertilize it.”

And one of the biggest rewards for Patrick looms on the rainy days when the field remains playable because of its top conditions.

“We like to try to pull off miracles,” Patrick said. “When everyone else is rained out, we’re playing.”

Contact Steve Hunter at 253-872-6600, ext. 5052 or

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