The city park system was born in 1938 with the dedication of .95 acres of land by John and Camilla Barnitz to be used as a neighborhood park. Over the next 73 years, the park system has expanded to include 310 acres of land that is divided into 34 parks and includes the 40-acre Rolla Cemetery, which was incorporated into the city in 1861. The Parks Department manages small, neighborhood parks with nothing more than playground equipment installed, to Ber Juan Park, which includes a softball/baseball complex, tennis courts, lake, and the City's Recreation Centre and outdoor pool facilities in its 85 acres.
Responsibilities of the Department include the maintenance and improvements to city parks and the cemetery, coordination of the recreation program and concession operations at the outdoor facilities. The City elevated the park maintenance functions and recreation program to Department status in 1982. Today, the parks department mantains six lighted ballfields and nine total athletic fields. The department is also in charge of maintaining the Skateboard Park; 6 tennis courts; 16 basketball courts; 4 soccer/football fields; 2 sand volleyball courts; 19 playgrounds, a standing locomotive and passenger car and 7.75 miles of trails. The department also operates a concession stand, 12 restrooms, five pavilions, batting cages (five interchangeable pitching machines in the batting cages), and two maintenance sheds.