Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation has been singled out for two state honors from the Florida Recreation and Park Association.
The Hillsborough department won a 2020 Agency Excellence Award in the community building category, according to a Hillsborough County news release.
That award recognizes the department’s efforts “to serve and enhance the community through its 166 parks, 118 playgrounds, 53 community centers, and nearly 50 sports complexes,” the release said. It also notes that the department manages 55 youth sports organizations, serving 26,439 youths last year.
Among its accomplishments, the release says, are:
- The transformation of Lucy Dell Pond park from an overgrown water basin that attracted illegal dumping to an attractive pond featuring an LED-lit boardwalk and native landscaping.
- The creation of Carrollwood Village Park, which turned a decommissioned wastewater treatment facility into a park with an amphitheater, fitness challenge course, skate park, dog park, splash park, inclusive playground, and 24-hour gym for county deputies.
The department also offers a wide range of licensed after-school and summer camp programs, which includes the Positive Coaching Alliance curriculum.
The programming has a strong component for those with disabilities, and the programs’ fee structure is designed to make the camps accessible to all youth.
The department also has partnerships with community groups, including the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Tampa Bay Lightning, community HOAs and civic groups, including the Carrollwood Conservancy, and the Northdale Older Wiser Lives Seniors (OWLS), the release says.
Plus, the department fosters strong community involvement through more than 30 signature events, including the Northdale Family Fun Fest.
Other achievements include:
- Efforts to change the way the urban forest is managed, including development of an urban forest master plan that calls for planting 27,000 trees by 2024
- The All People’s Life Center, which hosts numerous tournaments, including those for wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and other adaptive programming
- The Ed Radice Sports Complex, which includes five softball fields, eight baseball fields, nine soccer fields, and 10 horseshoe pits.
Besides winning the department award, Nature Program Specialist Brad Lympany was named the 2020 Rising Star for his work developing and implementing Parks & Recreation programs, and building relationships with the community, the release says.
Lympany was involved with several of the department’s most popular programs, including Hiking Spree, Senior’s Outdoor Active Recreation (SOAR), and Eco Adventure Camp.
Lympany works with a wide variety of community groups, including Outdoor Afro, which is dedicated to getting members of the African American community out on hiking trails, and the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network, the release says.
Published September 23, 2020