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National Gold Medal Award finalist Metro Parks applauds winners

September 26, 2017

Seven agencies nationally honored for excellence in park and recreation management

Metro Parks Tacoma congratulates the 2017 winners of National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.

Seven winners were announced Tuesday, Sept. 26 by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

Metro Parks, a Gold Medal winner in 1985 and 1992, was among four finalists in the category for agencies serving populations of between 150,000 and 400,000 people. This year’s winner of that division is Grand Prairie (Texas). Other finalists in the same category were Arlington Parks and Recreation (Texas) and Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (Beaverton, Ore.).

Winners of the six other Gold Medals in various categories were:

Class I (population 400,001 and over)
Johnson County Park and Recreation District — Shawnee Mission, Kan. 

Class II (population 150,001 – 400,000)
City of Grand Prairie — Grand Prairie, Texas

Class III (population 75,001 – 150,000)
City of Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs — Roswell, Ga.

Class IV (population 30,001 – 75,000)
Bismarck Parks and Recreation District — Bismarck, N.D.

Class V (population less than 30,000)
Itasca Park District — Itasca, Ill.

State Park Systems
Arizona State Parks and Trails — Phoenix, Ariz.

Armed Forces Recreation
MCCS Cherry Point — Cherry Point, N.C.

“We congratulate all of the Gold Medal winners, and especially our friends in Grand Prairie. It is a great honor to be recognized as a finalist among those at the pinnacle of our profession,” said Andrea Smith, president of the Metro Parks Board of Commissioners. “Everyone at Metro Parks – from full-time staff to part-time seasonal workers – goes above and beyond every day to challenge the status quo and develop creative ways to serve our community. Thanks to the generous support of citizens and partner organizations, we will keep striving to be the best of the best.”

Founded in 1965, the National Gold Medal Awards program honors agencies that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition.

Many of Metro Parks’ accomplishments in recent years have hinged on the partnerships its leaders have nurtured with other agencies. Collaborations have led to the Science and Math Institute, a one-of-a-kind public high school inside Point Defiance Park; coordination of seasonal athletics at all 36 elementary schools; therapeutic shark dives for wounded veterans; and creation of mountain biking trails at Swan Creek Park. With support from multiple agencies, Metro Parks is transforming the contaminated ASARCO breakwater peninsula at Point Defiance Park into 11 acres of waterfront park land.

Established by voters in 1907, Metro Parks is the oldest independent park district in the state of Washington.

Its diverse assets include the 760-acre Point Defiance Park, two zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums; sports complexes; pools and spraygrounds; community centers; a marina; a living history museum; community gardens; and a Victorian-style conservatory inside an arboretum.

The NRPA is a nonprofit dedicated to helping its nearly 60,000 members provide all Americans with access to parks and recreational for health, conservation and social equity. The nonprofit AAPRA is focused on the administration of recreation and parks.



Michael Thompson, Public Information Manager, (253) 312-5766;