The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), announced last week that the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department is a finalist for the 2018 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Award 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. Applications are separated into classes based on population. Bloomington Parks and Recreation is a finalist in the Class III category. The department, one of only 166 agencies in the U.S. accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, won the Gold Medal in 2007.
Significant additions to the city’s parks and programming since then, including the completion of Phase 2 of the B-Line Trail and the start of construction on Switchyard Park, prompted the department to renew its candidacy for this prestigious award. “Winning the Gold Medal was a tremendous honor, and our department has, for the last 10 years, added programs, continued to be good stewards of the resources in our care, and worked with our community to create a plan for one of the largest park projects in our city’s history,” said Paula McDevitt, Administrator for the Parks and Recreation Department. “Bloomington truly appreciates its parks and recreation programs, and being named a finalist for the Gold Medal reinforces residents’ confidence that their parks are in good hands.”
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. Bloomington Parks and Recreation joins three other finalists in Class III: City of Evanston (Illinois) Parks, Recreation and Community Services; Greeley (Colorado) Culture, Parks and Recreation; and Lawrence (Kansas) Parks and Recreation. “Our Parks and Recreation Department plays a huge role in the daily life of Bloomington,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “From the 10,000 people who visit the Farmers’ Market on a Saturday morning in the summer, to the countless residents who run, play, and relax in our parks, on our trails, and in our public facilities around the city, we know that our parks system is top-notch and are proud to have the validation this recognition confers.”
A panel of five park and recreation professionals reviews and judges all application materials. The final part of the application submission is a five-minute video, published online, that highlights how Bloomington Parks and Recreation’s programs, facilities, properties, and events positively impact the community. Gold Medal Award winners will be announced at the NRPA Annual Conference in Indianapolis on Sept. 25.