After 23 years in various roles in The Woodlands, John Powers retired Jan. 1. Beginning his career in New Mexico, Powers heard about George Mitchell’s development of The Woodlands when he went to Texas Tech University in the 1970s. In 1998 he took his first job in The Woodlands in the parks department. He said he will spend his retirement traveling with his wife, who also retired in January. The couple live in Cochran’s Crossing and have two adult children and two grandchildren.

How has your role with the township changed over time?

I started with the predecessor organization in July 1998 as parks superintendent, and back then the population was about 48,000. The community has grown exponentially, and with the role the responsibilities have grown and evolved. Sixteen years ago, I became the assistant general manager for community services, and that involves overseeing parks and recreation; environmental services; law enforcement and neighborhood services; resident care center; and transportation and infrastructure.

Can you briefly describe your job duties?

A lot of what I did, was problem solving for employees and residents ... and providing oversight and guidance to the department directors. ... It being a special-purpose district, there’s not a set blueprint for how we function and operation within our enabling legislation as far as our authority, so just getting problems solved. A slogan that I will borrow from Chip Vansteenburg, former city manager for Shenandoah, is “Make the people that are unhappy, happy, without making those who are already happy, unhappy.”

What do you feel your successor’s priorities will be, and what advice would you give them?

The things that I would tell them are what’s made The Woodlands special. ... We always try to meet and exceed the residents’ and businesses’ needs and expectations. The quality of life here is very high, and the people have high expectations, so it can be challenging. But we have got to meet and exceed those expectations, staying ahead of the curve and anticipating what those will be before the residents and businesses realize it.

Are there any significant changes or additions coming about in 2022 in community services in The Woodlands?

One of the big changes that hopefully residents and businesses owners will notice an improvement [with] is a lot of our contract landscape maintenance is being brought in-house ... and that will help reduce costs and hopefully increase efficiency and effectiveness. The challenge is staffing. We have a challenge in getting good, qualified people to join the team across the board.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I’m very proud of the 23.5 years I’ve spent here, but know I haven’t accomplished anything by myself; I have worked with a great team of people from day one. There’s probably two things that stick out the most ... being part of the merger of the [Town Center Improvement District] with the three HOA associations and three service companies, into one, as the township, and the voters had approved that in 2007. ... And as a result of that I was part of the team that built or remodeled town hall—what we call town hall now—[which is] Silver LED-certified.