The Grand Prairie Parks, Arts & Recreation Department was named best in nation when it was awarded the National Recreation and Park Association’s coveted Gold Medal Sept. 26, 2017, at its annual conference in New Orleans.
The Gold Medal is a program of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Grand Prairie won in the Class II division for cities of population between 150,001 and 400,000.
Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials. Judges cited Grand Prairie’s 5,010 acres of parkland in 58 parks, trail systems, community partnerships, hundreds of special events, unique programming for all ages, means and backgrounds, 1Ž4 cent sales tax for park improvements, the Summit Active Adult Center, and the soon-to-open Epic mega recreation Center, Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark and PlayGrand Adventures all-accessible playground for people of all abilities.
“We are so honored to receive this tremendous recognition,” said Mayor Ron Jensen. “On top of the Gold Medal win in 2008, this clearly shows Grand Prairie is committed to quality of life and enhancing the value and experience for our residents through parks, arts and recreation.”
“I can’t say enough good things about our dedicated and innovative staff, energized Park Board and active residents and community partners,” said Rick Herold, Parks, Arts and Recreation Director. “I am blessed to work with an employee and residential family of people passionate about parks, community, unity and serving others.”
Grand Prairie’s competition was steep, facing Arlington, Texas Parks and Recreation; Metro Parks Tacoma, Washington; and Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District in Beaverton, Oregon.
Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff and elected officials.
A panel of five park and recreation professionals reviews and judges all application materials. Judges are chosen for their considerable experience and knowledge in parks and recreation on both the local and national levels.