Hillsborough County’s Parks & Recreation has been named one of the top parks and recreation programs in the country, according to a county news release.
The program is one of four national finalists in the Class 1 Category for the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence.
This is the second consecutive year that the program has been singled out for its excellence, by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration.
Class 1 includes the nation’s largest parks and recreation departments, serving populations of more than 400,000.
Only one department will receive the highest award, the Grand Plaque, which will be awarded in September.
Here are some key facts about Hillsborough’s parks and recreation department and its programming:
- It offers offers more than 1,700 partnered, athletic programs that have 503,000 visits annually.
- It manages 167 parks, 223 sports fields, 118 playgrounds, 54 recreation centers, 47 athletic complexes, 10 dog parks, six cemeteries, and five splash pads.
- It is estimated that these facilities result in nearly $50 million in increased property values.
- Its $9 million Athletic Turf Initiative aims to ensure high-quality playing conditions for 40,000 youth athletes and a $3.5 million Americans with Disabilities Transition Plan assists in removing physical barriers.
- Lucy Dell Community Pond, once an overgrown, littered water basin dividing two neighborhoods, has been transformed by installing a boardwalk, fitness station and walking trail, creating an urban oasis.
- A $10 million investment turned a decommissioned wastewater treatment plant into a destination park, which attracts more than 603,000 visits a year.
- A former landfill site has been converted into the county’s first drone racing park.
- Hillsborough County Adaptive Sports (HCAS) is the only team representing a government agency in the USA Wheelchair Football League (USAWFL).
- Hillsborough County Adaptive Sports hosted the USAWFL tournament at the Tampa Convention Center in August 2022.
- A Wellness Access Pass was created to promote healthy lifestyles. For $10.75 per month, participants receive access to county-owned fitness centers and open gyms.
- Move Hillsborough activities served more than 78,000 people in 2022.
- The annual Hillsborough County Hiking Spree encourages residents to “Take a hike!’’ and highlights 22 trails that encompass everything from paved neighborhood trails to primitive treks.
Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal awards program honors park and recreation agencies in the United States and military installations worldwide that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and community engagement. Applicants are placed into six classes, with five based on population and one class for Armed Forces installations. The award is given by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association.
Published June 14, 2023