Meet Sarah Sandquist
New Fishers Parks & Recreation Director Brings 15 Years of Experience
Photographer: Brandy Hornback
Fishers is constantly growing and evolving, and the new Parks and Recreation Director is rolling right on through the changes. Sarah Sandquist was recently appointed Director of Fishers Parks and Recreation Department at the end of August and fills the role vacated by Tony Elliot.
Sandquist served as Assistant Director of the department since February under Elliot, who left to pursue another directorship in California.
“I’m very excited to have this opportunity,” Sandquist says. “Tony had a big impact in the department and in the city, and I hope I can step in and fill his shoes.”
Sandquist brings 15 years of experience serving in a variety of roles in parks and recreation. Although she holds a degree in Education from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Sandquist has never worked in a school classroom. Just prior to joining Fishers Parks and Recreation Department, she served as the Recreation Supervisor for the city of Kirkland, Washington.
After eight years in Washington, Sandquist was happy to return to the Midwest.
“I love being in Fishers,” she says. “It’s a smaller city, but it’s got all the things people are looking for in a community, like the bustling downtown area, vibrant nightlife and plenty of shopping.”
She noticed something else that stood out about Fishers.
“Working for the city of Fishers isn’t like working for other typical city government organizations,” she says. “Mayor Fadness and Fishers leadership want to get things done. We don’t have to go through a lot of red tape to make things happen. Our marketing and PR department is one of the best I’ve seen in the country. They put out great promotional material and deliver really consistent messaging on social media and in marketing collateral.”
In less than a year, Sandquist has been instrumental in making some welcome improvements. Four pickleball courts were just built at Cyntheanne Park.
“I connected with our residents and found we had a lot more pickleball fans than we realized,” she says. “So, instead of building two courts, we built four.”
Sandquist also became involved with the reopening of the Nickel Plate Amphitheater, and the change has been met with plenty of positive feedback.
“The new stage is bigger, the roof is higher, and the sound system is outstanding,” Sandquist says. “It’s opened the opportunity to bring in great talent. We brought in Manchester Orchestra with Van Williams for the opening act and got tons of great feedback about the level of talent at that concert.”
On tap for the immediate future has been planning for holiday activities. The Boo Bash, a giant trick-or-treat extravaganza with plenty of vendors and entertainment, was a big hit again in October. The department also puts on the Winter Wonderland every December. This year’s holiday event on Dec. 1 featured carolers, special guests, a tree lighting and plenty of festive music.
In the meantime, Sandquist and the department are working on plans for the Nickel Plate Trail. The nine-mile, multi-use trail will go from Noblesville to Indianapolis, and 4.5 miles of it passes through Fishers. While the project is in the planning stages, consultants have held community engagement events at restaurants and the farmers market to get feedback from residents.
“We don’t have any set plans,” she says. “We want to hear from residents so we know they’ll get the most out of the trail. We want to design and build 4.5 miles that will wow people.”
Planners are seeking feedback from Harrison Parkway Elementary and New Britton Elementary since both properties fall along the trail. You can visit the Fishers Parks and Recreation Facebook page for information about facilities and upcoming events.