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Tampa Parks and Recreation Department awarded National Gold Medal Award for Excellence

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The Tampa Parks and Recreation Department has been awarded the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. This highlights the Tampa Parks and Recreation Department's commitment to public safety, keeping kids safe and active and providing top-of-the-line spaces to draw visitors to our city.

This is Tampa's fourth year being selected as a finalist, and the first year being awarded the Grand Plaque Award in the Class II (population 150,001 - 400,000) category.

This award was given at the NRPA Annual Conference on behalf of The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff members, and elected officials.

Tampa Parks & Recreation was joined by three other finalists in their class.

There were several highlights of the Tampa Parks and Recreation Department's application, including:

  • The diverse array of programs centered around youth development, including the City's two gymnastics and dance complexes with more than 3,000 participants enrolled and a substantial waiting list. Opportunities continue to increase through a recent $2M expansion of one of these facilities.
  • Tampa Parks and Recreation partnered with the Tampa Bay Lightning to build two outdoor roller hockey rinks offering youth leagues as well as open play. More than 25 youth street hockey teams with 250 players utilize the facility. The youth leagues have also competed in the Tampa Bay Lighting's Street Hockey tournaments and are recognized as the largest street hockey league in Tampa.
  • The opening of the River Center at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park in May 2018. Since then, more than 250 functions have been hosted with over 135,000 visitors. Most weekends are booked 18 months out.
  • The award-winning Tampa Riverwalk featuring 2.7 miles of downtown trail, connecting seven parks and many cultural and tourist attractions. This waterfront accessible multi-use corridor offers urban relief and attracts new residents and commercial development

"We have an outstanding team that is hard-working and dedicated; they are what makes both our City and our Department great," according to Sherisha Hills, who serves as director of Tampa Parks and Recreation. "Tampa is the City of Champions, and I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the City of Tampa and our Parks and Recreation team."

Mayor Jane Castor said the Tampa Parks and Recreation Department's commitment to public safety also set the City's application apart, especially during hurricanes and tropical storms.

"The City of Tampa's staff is engaged through the City's emergency management system and trained to support our residents through storm preparation and recovery," Mayor Castor said. "When storms approach, our Parks and Recreation team springs into action to distribute sandbags from park locations for our residents to protect their homes. Once a storm passes, we respond to clear the streets of debris and establish points to distribute aid at our facilities. Our teams truly go above and beyond to help our residents."

Other finalists in the Class II Division included Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation, Des Moines Parks and Recreation and the City of Wichita Parks and Recreation.

To learn more about what Tampa Parks and Recreation offers, visit