FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 17, 2021
Contact: Lee Farmer
Parks and Recreation
Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Department Receives Multiple Awards
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.— The Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Department was honored with five awards at the 2020 Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association (ARPA) Annual Conference in Hot Springs earlier this week. The awards were: Sports Management Program of the Year for the new Esports program; Natural Surface Trail of the Year for down-hill trails constructed in Gregory Park; Paved Surface Trail of the Year for the Niokaska Trail extension; Natural Resources Program of the Year for the installation of recycling and cleanup stations along the Razorback Greenway; and Festival of the Year for the City’s annual Celebration of Trees.
“I want to congratulate our amazing Parks and Recreation team on receiving these honors,” said Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan. “This hardworking team works year-round to provide wonderful experiences for our residents, whether it be through beautiful parks, well-tended trails, or programs and events. I am especially impressed by the dedication and creativity they have shown during the COVID pandemic as they have found innovative ways to continue to offer excellent programming and recreation options for our community while observing best practices in health and safety.”
The Sports Management Program of the Year was awarded for the Esports program, which was established in 2020. In a year unlike any other, this program provided an outlet for the Northwest Arkansas community to play, compete and socialize from the comfort of their own homes. The inaugural season brought in over 200 participants, ranging in age from 6 to 56, from across the state to play games like Fortnite, Mario Kart and Rocket League in weekly matches. Final tournament victors were rewarded with a variety of prizes from league sponsor, The Grid Esports.
New mountain biking trails constructed in Fayetteville’s Gregory Park were awarded the Natural Surface Trail of the Year award. Through a partnership between the city, local volunteers, Ozark Off-Road Cyclists (OORC), and philanthropic sources, including the Walton Family Foundation, improvements were made to the existing trail and two new downhill trails were created, along with other amenities, plus improvements to make the park more accessible. The improvements have turned this previously underutilized urban park into a center for cycling and enjoying Fayetteville’s natural beauty.
The Urban Forestry department’s annual Celebration of Trees Arbor Day event, now in its 23rd year, was awarded the Festival of the Year award for its innovative approach to changed circumstances in 2020. The annual tree giveaway was adapted into a safe, efficient drive-through program that required almost no contact between residents and staff and managed to distribute 1,000 young trees in just three hours.
The City received a Natural Resources Program of the Year award for five community litter stations constructed along the Razorback Regional Greenway in May of 2020. Designed in partnership with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, these self-service stations provide bags and trash receptacles to encourage visitors to help combat litter as they use the trails.
The Niokaska Creek Trail connector was selected for the Paved Trail of the Year award because of its reach and impact into previously unserved areas of the City. This three-mile section of trail provides active transportation and recreation opportunities for over 4,000 residents who live within 1/4 mile of the trail. The improvements include energy-efficient LED lighting, a tunnel under a busy road, and a 100-foot-long bridge overlooking a small waterfall constructed from native stone. The new Niokaska Creek Trail services a whole new section of the City and stands as an exemplary example of trails linking people and places to create a better place to live.
Visit www.goplayfay.com to learn more about amenities, recreation activities, and volunteering opportunities with the City of Fayetteville’s Parks and Recreation.