The City of Garland Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department received the 2022 Texas Gold Medal Award on Feb. 17.
The Gold Medal Award is the highest honor given to a City’s park system by the Texas Recreation and Park Society. It honors departments for excellence in the field of recreation and park management for the past three years.
Garland’s entry dates to 2018, when its residents and City Council embarked on its path to the 2019 Bond Program, which included a $117 million commitment to recreation facilities, parks and trails.
Council members recognized that such a massive endeavor would also require strategic planning and guidance. From 2018-20, the City completed a comprehensive Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Strategic Master Plan. Also for the first time in its history, Garland staff initiated a Trails and Bikeways Master Plan, Cultural Arts Master Plan, Aquatics Master Plan, Downtown Redevelopment Plan and a Convention & Visitor’s Bureau tourism assessment.
Staff also sought other funding opportunities. The City applied for and was awarded a $750,000 local park matching grant for Lottie Watson neighborhood park development as well as a $1.75 million boating access grant for John Paul Jones Park and boat ramp improvements. It also accessed Community Development Block Grant funds for park projects.
Furthermore, the Garland Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts staff launched multiple efforts to update maintenance standards, acquire much-needed equipment and operational funds, improve marketing, grow access to the visual and performing arts, and introduce new and improved programs and events.
The Gold Medal award honors excellence in parks and recreation management, long-range planning, resource and fiscal management, programming and events, public input, community involvement, volunteerism, and marketing/promotional efforts. The application is a long, multistep process heavily evaluated by state officials and peers. The award was presented at the Texas Recreation and Park Society Institute's Annual Awards Ceremony at Kyle Field & Texas A&M Hotel in College Station.
“This award is a great honor that validates the courage and forward thinking of the residents and their elected officials to invest in quality of life infrastructure," said Andy Hesser, the City's Managing Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts. "I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the City Council, Park Board, City Managers and all of the City staff throughout various departments that contributed to making a meaningful impact for Garland. I especially want to recognize the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts staff for their hard work and support towards the long-term vision that we strive for daily.”
Pictured, front row, from left: Kim Nurmi, Managing Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Andy Hesser, Jesse Johnson, Silvia Froehner, D’Lee Williams, Dana Lodge, Rhonda McTyre and City Manager Bryan Bradford. Back row: Keith Reagan, Deputy City Manager Mitch Bates, Ziad Kharrat, Rachel Bibby, Heather Lambert, Brian Gaddis and Matt Grubisich.