Long Beach Parks Awarded 2013 National Gold Medal for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management

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The City of Long Beach, Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine on Tuesday was awarded the 2013 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, making Long Beach the largest city in the nation to receive a Gold Medal this year. Long Beach previously won the Gold Medal in 1988, 1998, and 2006.

“I’m delighted that Long Beach has been recognized again as having one of the best park systems in the country,” said Mayor Bob Foster. “The Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine staff have done an outstanding job providing excellent programs for our residents and increasing our green space within our already built-out city.”

“It is a tremendous honor for the Department to be recognized as one of the best parks and recreation departments in the country,” said George Chapjian, Director, Parks, Recreation and Marine. “It is a great testament to the level of professional staff, who work tirelessly to provide the very best programs and services to the entire Long Beach community.”

Long Beach’s application for the 2013 Gold Medal focused on several service and program areas, including:

The Department manages more than 172 acres of estuaries within the City’s built-out 50 square miles. Conservation efforts have included stream restorations; a tree trimming policy to ensure healthy trees and wildlife nesting in them; and partnerships with businesses and community organizations to adopt and maintain open space areas, often with no additional resources, such as turf-to-mulch or hardscape conversions.

Health and Wellness
The Department has developed 48.2 acres of new parkland since 2008 in underserved neighborhoods; provides free youth sports leagues; and participates in the USDA Summer Food Service Program for Children, which provided approximately 125,000 nutritionally balanced meals this year.

Social Equity
The Department responds to the needs of residents with regional senior centers, low-cost pet vaccination clinics and adoption programs, and award-winning Homeland Cultural Center programs that cultivate and promote traditional and contemporary art forms. The Department also supervises 26 parks during after-school hours and school breaks, and partners with the Long Beach Unified School District to serve 213,000 youth annually at staff-run Winners Reaching Amazing Potential recreation programs at eight school campuses. In addition, the Department added its latest Teen Center in 2012, when the 5,275-square-foot Teen Center at McBride Park opened to serve 1,400 youth each month in a safe, welcoming environment.

For the Gold Medal, Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine beat out Henderson (NV) Parks & Recreation, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and Plano (TX) Parks & Recreation in the Class One Category for cities with a population of more than 250,000. The winner was announced Tuesday, October 8, 2013, at the 2013 National Recreation and Park Association Congress and Exposition in Houston, Texas.

The Gold Medal Award is a program of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Since 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program has honored communities in the United States 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 seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for armed forces recreation communities, and a State Park System Class awarded every other year.

Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine serves a diverse community of over 462,000 residents. Programs and services are offered at 162 parks with 26 community centers, two historic sites, two major tennis centers, one of the busiest municipal golf systems in the country with five courses, the largest municipally operated marina system in the nation with 3,800 boat slips, and six miles of beaches. More than 3,100 acres within the City’s 50 square miles are developed for recreation. The Department offers recreation programs from arts and cultural, sports and fitness, and enrichment subjects for all ages from preschool to senior citizen. More than 2,800 recreational and educational classes are offered each year.

For more information about Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine, visit www.lbparks.org.

About American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration
American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration is a nonprofit organization founded to advance knowledge related to the administration of recreation and parks; to encourage scholarly efforts by both practitioners and educators that would enhance the practice of park and recreation administration; to promote broader public understanding of the importance of parks and recreation to the public good; and to conduct research, publish scholarly papers, and sponsor seminars related to the advancement of park and recreation administration. For more information, visit www.aapra.org.

About National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of 30,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy lifestyles, recreation initiatives, and conservation of natural and cultural resources. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org.

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