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Welcome to Wetlands

When Matt Townsend got the call from the Town of Jonesborough letting him know he had been selected as the new director for Wetlands Water Park, he couldn’t help but think he would soon be stepping into a job for which he had been preparing most of his life.
“I absolutely love this town,” Townsend said. “And this is my dream job.”
In fact, Townsend believes he may have been working toward this point from the beginning.
Born in a rural part of New Jersey, Townsend moved to Sevier County in Tennessee with his family when he was 19. His plan, he said, was to stay for a couple of years, then move back north.
But as time passed, Townsend fell in love with Tennessee, its people – and its college football.
“It blew my mind when I first came here,” he said.
For a man who loves sports and the outdoors as much as Townsend, East Tennessee seemed the perfect place to call home.
For nearly 20 years, Townsend worked hard in everything from retail to tourism, including a period in sales and marketing for Ober Gatlinburg.
That job gave him a good feel, not only for a tourist-based economy, he said, but also for how smaller municipalities operate.
“We ended up doing a lot of work for the City of Gatlinburg,” he said.
During that time period, Townsend also met his wife, Amber, a native of Damascus, Va.
They married and had a daughter. The couple even tried Florida beach living for a while, but soon felt compelled to come back to the region Amber had always called home and Townsend had begun to see as his home.
They soon moved to Jonesborough and once again embraced small town life.
Townsend worked as a volunteer with the Jonesborough Police Department and took on the role as assistant baseball coach at Grandview School, where his wife works and his daughter, Sydney, attends.
“There is something special about this town,” Townsend said. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
When Townsend heard about the water park director spot opening up, he decided to apply. With his passion for the outdoors, his work in tourism and his love for people, it seemed a perfect fit. Jonesborough officials agreed.
Now Townsend is firmly entrenched in his upstairs office at Wetlands, busily preparing for the 2012 water park season.
“You wear a lot of hats in this job,” Townsend said. “So far I’ve already been involved in everything from maintenance and advertising to sales. And we’re just getting started.”
Right now, Townsend said he is focusing on keeping park updates on track, ensuring this season’s customers get the best possible experience.
He would also like to see a fresh look for some of Wetlands’ marketing and advertising items — including brochures and website.
“You would be surprised how many people here still don’t realize we have a water park in Jonesborough,” Townsend said. “This really is a great entertainment option for local residents, especially with a season pass, which makes it an even better bargain.”
Townsend admits there is still a lot to do before Wetlands opens on May 26.
But in his new role as water park director, he also admits he couldn’t be happier.
Season passes goes on sale March 13. For more information, call 753-1561.
— Lisa Whaley is a free-lance writer contracted by the Town of Jonesborough to write “Talk of the Town.” Have a suggestion for a topic for the column? Call Town Hall at 753-1031 or e-mail [email protected]