The City of Evanston has been named a finalist for the 2017 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. The honor was announced by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration(AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association(NRPA).
Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the U.S. 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 citizens, staff, and elected officials.
Applications are separated into seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for armed forces recreation, and one class for state park systems awarded on odd numbered years. The City of Evanston’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department joins three other finalists in the Class III category for cities with populations of 75,001 to 150,000 that will compete for grand honors this year. Other finalists include Arlington Heights Park District (Arlington Heights, IL), City of Mountain View Community Services Department (Mountain View, CA), and City of Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs (Roswell, GA).
Evanston’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department enables residents to live active, healthy lifestyles by maintaining Evanston’s 3.8 miles of lakefront, 77 parks and seven community centers, where programming is provided to the entire city. As a result of its commitment to recreational areas, 98 percent of households live within a half mile of green space. Continual improvements to the five miles of running and biking paths ensure access to many of Evanston’s recreational amenities.
The Department embraces diversity by offering special events, such as the World Arts & Music Festival, Day of the Dead Celebration Concert, Black History Month programming, and CommUNITY Picnic. Staff strives to equitably serve the community by focusing on targeted populations through its Youth and Young Adult Division and Ombudsman services, which reach Evanston’s most vulnerable residents.
Evanston’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department invests in local youth by offering valuable work experience and life skills through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program, which provides over 800 youth, ages 14-18, with summer employment. The department hires for a variety of positions, including lakefront staff, camp counselors, inclusion aides, and maintenance staff.
“We are extremely humbled and excited about being recognized as a Gold Medal finalist,” said Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director Lawrence C. Hemingway. “Our team of professionals strives on a daily basis to provide the best recreational opportunities for all populations in our community, and is working toward making Evanston the most livable city in America.”
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.
This year’s finalists will compete for Grand Plaque Award honors this summer, and the seven Grand Plaque recipients will be announced live during the NRPA General Session at the 2017 NRPA Annual Conference in New Orleans, September 26-28, 2017.
Musco Lighting LLC has been a proud sponsor of the Gold Medal Awards program for more than 10 years.