City receives highest honor from Texas Parks & Recreation Society

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Minutes to everything, second to none is not just a slogan for the City of Mansfield, it’s a call to action. That endless pursuit of being the very best for Mansfield residents has paid off yet again, with a new recognition declaring the city’s parks among the very best in the state.

The Mansfield Parks & Recreation Department was honored by the Texas Recreation and Park Society (TRAPS) with the Gold Medal Award, the highest designation possible from the group, during a special ceremony at the state organization annual conference in Irving on March 2. This is the third time the department has been honored with the Gold Medal.

“Once again Mansfield’s parks and recreation system is being lauded as the best in the state,” said Mayor David L. Cook. “The city’s commitment to this important amenity for our residents is long and unwavering. Our city’s parks are beautiful. Our recreation programs and special events draw our community together in fun and exciting ways. These are the hallmarks of an award-winning parks system and why Mansfield continues to be recognized as the best.”

Mansfield was recognized as the winner among cities with populations between 50,000 and 100,000. The Gold Medal Award honors communities that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Each applicant is judged on its ability to address their respective cities’ needs through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials over a three-year time frame.

“The partnerships at work in building our parks and recreation system are a key to our success,” said City Manager Clayton Chandler. “The City Council, the Mansfield Park Facilities Development Corporation board – appointed by the council – and city staff work in concert to ensure that our facilities are high quality, that our programs meet the needs of our residents and that our special events maintain the spirit our community.”

TRAPS officials agreed, citing the city’s collaborative efforts and remarking that Mansfield demonstrated to an outstanding focus on public service, preservation and improvement of the city’s parks and recreation system.

“This award is a direct reflection of the commitment everyone in our city has to parks, from the City Council and park board to the city staff,” said Shelly Lanners, deputy city manager for community services and the former director of the department. “What is remarkable is that this commitment is a consistent element in Mansfield and is a guiding force as we build and expand our parks system and plan for the future of our growing city.”

Mansfield has received the award in 1998 and 2009. Cities are only eligible for repeat victories a minimum of three years after an award and only after showing significant growth and improvement.

Among the achievements highlighted in the award:

  • Successful implementation of the 2009 Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails Master Plan, which included the addition of nearly 200 acres of new parkland.
  • Development of new parks and programs, such as the Walnut Creek Linear Trail, Bike Mansfield, and six new community/neighborhood parks.
  • Innovative public-private partnerships, which combine city and private resources to bring programs and facilities to residents, such as Big League Dreams, Hawaiian Falls, Mansfield National Golf Club, Fieldhouse USA and StarCenter.
  • Design, construction and operation of the Elmer W. Oliver Nature Park, which not only features well-preserved wildlife habitats and natural elements such as lakes and forest trails, but also hosts extensive nature education classes and events to get the community involved in, and excited about, the outdoors.

Oliver Nature Park was also selected as a location for a site tour by TRAPS attendees as part of the annual convention. A caravan explored the park, guided by Park Superintendent Toby Fojtik and Nature Educational Specialist Tiffany Gorell, for an in-depth look at the many features and discussion of how Mansfield was able to work with the natural elements and create such a well-planned, much loved, community park.

“We are honored to be recognized as the best parks and recreation system in Texas for the third time,” said Matt Young, director of parks & recreation for the city. “With the tremendous growth that Mansfield has experienced over the past 25 years, this recognition validates the continued commitment that our staff, advisory board and elected officials have in providing quality parks and recreational opportunities for our residents.”

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