Exec brings much safety, security experience to Scissortail Park operations
Scissortail Park is scheduled to open to the public the week of Sept. 26 — a date that couldn’t come fast enough for its chief operating officer, Chris Bachmann.
After the opening, the 36-acre, 1,000-tree park — which is situated north of Interstate 40 between Robinson and Hudson — essentially will become Bachmann’s office, which is more than fine by him. “Desk job” isn’t in his nature, the native Missourian said.
Bachmann took the chief operating officer position eight months ago. He brings more than 20 years' experience in safety and security, most recently with OU Medicine.
Funded by MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects), Scissortail Park currently employs 10, but the staff will grow to 50 by September, Bachmann said.
From the Myriad Gardens Foundation office, Bachmann, 49, recently sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about his life and career. He’ll be based at Union Station after the park opens. This is an edited transcript:
You lived in Missouri until you, a little more than four years ago, moved to Oklahoma. Why’d you uproot?
My family — including my younger sister and my parents — preceded me here. My brother-in-law’s work brought him to Oklahoma City, and then my parents relocated to be close to their grandchildren, now 8, 16 and 19. Our family has always been very close, and I didn’t want to regret missing precious time with them. I’m a native of Joplin, Missouri, where my mom taught third grade and my dad coached basketball. When I was growing up, our family camped, hiked, hunted and fished together, including in Oklahoma — where my maternal grandfather had a place on Grand Lake. I also visited Tahlequah; I’m a small part Cherokee and yearned to learn more about my heritage.
What was your thing as a kid?
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Aside from exploring the outdoors, I played basketball and threw the shot and discus in track and field. When I was 16, I worked a year at a federal fish hatchery with The Youth Conservation Corps and later worked in forestry for the Missouri Department of Conservation. I considered forestry as a career, but job opportunities in forestry were scarcer then.
What are the highlights of your previous positions?
I studied criminal justice in college and, after I graduated, worked in physical and occupational safety and security and loss protection for a couple of private companies. I even worked in executive protection for a time. Then, I worked 16 years with Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois, just east of where I lived in St. Louis. I hired on in a safety and security role, and advanced to associate vice president of operations. Among other things, I oversaw special events and 200 acres of manicured space, including a campus botanical gardens. A recruiter wooed me to Oklahoma to take an opportunity as director of safety and security with OU Medicine, which included its remote locations. A friend told me of the opportunity with Scissortail Park. It was so close to what I’d done in St. Louis, and he knew I had a passion for such work.
Tell us more about what we can expect to enjoy when Scissortail Park opens in late September.
There will be super neat playground equipment, including a giant spider, big snake and rock climbing wall. There’ll be roller skate rentals, a civic interactive fountain in which kids and adults can play, and an off-leash dog park. A pavilion and covered children’s area will be available to rent for wedding receptions, birthdays and more. Our four-acre lake — 20 feet deep at its center — will accommodate paddleboats and kayaks. And, our Great Lawn will host up to 25,000 people. Next year’s Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon will end at Scissortail Park.
What’s planned for the lower, 34-acre park south of I-40, and when will it open?
We’ll start work in October, after the upper park opens, and construction will take about 18 months. Among other things, the park will feature wild flowers, sports fields and areas for yoga and Pilates. Our tagline is “a park for everyone.” And we plan to make sure that’s the case.
Position: Scissortail Park, chief operating officer.
Grew up in: Joplin, Missouri.
Education: Missouri Southern State University, bachelor’s in criminal justice administration; and Fontbonne University, master’s in management.
Neighborhood: west Edmond; He hopes to move downtown near the park.
Pet: “Gunner,” his 7-year-old golden retriever.
Worship: Frontline Church.
Professional involvement: He serves on the board of the local chapter of ASIS International membership organization for security management professionals.
Passions: Hikes with Gunner and cheering on the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team and St. Louis Blues hockey team.