FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 27, 2018
Contact: John M. Crow
Department of Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation Department Honored With Six Statewide Awards
Fayetteville, Ark. — The Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Department was recently honored with six awards at the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association annual conference and tradeshow held in Benton, Ark., November 7-9, 2018. The department received two Programs of the Year awards in addition to awards for Soft Surface Trail of the Year, Facility of the Year, Festival/Event of the Year, and Volunteer of the Year.
The Natural Resources Program of the Year award went to the Amazing Trees of Fayetteville program created this year by the Urban Foresters, along with the Urban Forestry Advisory Board. This new program was devised to promote tree preservation, raise awareness of the importance of the urban forest and celebrate the unique character of specific trees in our city. Each year a tree is chosen for designation as an Amazing Tree based on its unique characteristics, which include size, interesting shape or rare species, among other things. A plaque is placed near the tree educating the public about the species and explaining the tree’s unique characteristics.
Summer Fun 4 Kids camp, held at the Yvonne Richardson Community Center, was awarded the Recreation Administration Program of the Year for 2018. This program, now in its 12th year, provides the community’s youth with the opportunity to participate in eight weeks of enriching, fun, and adventurous programming during the summer. Weekly themes focus on STEM, health and fitness, nature and outdoors and more. The program serves 75 K-12 youth per week, providing them with opportunities and resources they may never have been exposed to, while increasing their appreciation for their surroundings and preparing them for tomorrow’s challenges.
The Kessler Mountain Regional Park Mountain Bike Trails were awarded the Soft-Surface Trails of the Year. Located on the 390-acre woodland reserve acquired by the City in March of 2014, the existing eight miles of trail were renovated in 2017 by Progressive Trail Design through a grant from the Walton Family Foundation. Also included in the project were an additional 3.5 miles of trail, signage and intersection markers, a rustic cedar bridge across a ravine, and two new trailhead access points with kiosks featuring trail maps and user information. The soft-surface trail at Kessler averages 112 visitors per day, for an estimated total of more than 40,000 visitors a year.
The Facility of the Year Award for those with a construction/renovation cost of under $200,000 went to the Lake Sequoyah Baitshop renovation. Lake Sequoyah, a 389-acre body of water on approximately 1,400 acres of parkland, is a popular place for boating, fishing, nature watching, picnicking and hiking. The baitshop, built in the early years of the park, was due for an upgrade. Completed almost entirely by Parks staff, the project included the addition of trusses and a new roof, insulation in the attic, concrete siding, a new HVAC system and new electrical wiring and lighting. A new ADA parking area and improved access to the building was added as well as a covered porch with beautiful views of the lake. The total cost for the project was $25,000.
Ladies DU Fayetteville won the award for Festival/Event of the Year for events held for one to four years. Created in 2016 as part of the Fayetteville Race Series, this is a ladies-only duathlon held in the spring and staged at Veterans Memorial Park on Lake Fayetteville. The race utilizes the Razorback Regional Greenway and the Lake Fayetteville paved trail for a two-mile run and 11-mile ride followed by a second two-mile run. Created to enhance the already active culture of Northwest Arkansas while introducing a new audience to individual performance competitions, the Ladies DU Fayetteville has become a highly anticipated annual event with some 200 participants each year.
The Volunteer of the Year award went to Fayetteville’s Laura Underwood, a vital leader on the board of the Friends of the Yvonne Richardson Community Center. Laura joined the group in 2016 and made it her mission to improve the community’s access to the services and programs provided at the YRCC by increasing funding. She has raised well over $40,000 in donations for the community center. Laura’s diligence in introducing new donors to the offerings and community benefits of the center resulted in a $15,000 contribution that enabled the center to hire more staff for the Summer Fun 4 Kids Camp, allowing additional children to have access to the program. Laura demonstrates how passion for helping others, paired with strong community connections, can result in outcomes that have significant impact.
The Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association is a professional organization for park, recreation and leisure services professionals in the state. As a National Recreation and Parks Association affiliate, they strive to provide professionals in the field an active organization that, along with many other things, strengthens the quality of professional leadership, offers education and training opportunities, and educates the public about the importance of recreation in our communities.
For more information about Fayetteville Parks and Recreation, including these and many more programs and facilities offered, visit www.fayetteville-ar.gov/Parks.