Metroparks Receives Six Awards From State Association

Posted Feb 11th, 2015 by Scott Carpenter  Category: Business, Toledo.com


Metroparks of the Toledo Area recently received six honors from the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association, including two first place awards. They were presented last week during OPRA’s annual conference and trade show at Kalahari Resort and Conference Center in Sandusky.

Metroparks was honored for the following.

Farnsworth and Pearson ‘Playscapes’
New “playscapes” at Farnsworth and Pearson Metroparks won first place in the Capital Improvements category for projects under $1 million. Each playground was crafted with a combination of stock equipment, custom sculptures and interpretive themes to create a series of interactive play environments. At Farnsworth, elements of the playground reflect the park’s location beside the Maumee River, while the larger Pearson playground was inspired by that park’s history as one of the last remaining pieces of the Great Black Swamp.

Garden Keepers
A new volunteer program, Garden Keepers, received first place in the Environmental and Interpretive Programs category. Through the program, volunteers adopt garden beds and work with Metroparks horticulturalist to maintain them to specified standards. Begun last year, the program is helping to improve the appearance of formal planted areas, such as the grounds surrounding the Manor House at Wildwood Preserve, while providing a new outlet for people to volunteer.

Comprehensive Plan
The park district received a second place award in the Management Innovation category for a comprehensive strategic plan. Three firms were retained to prepare separate studies that were combined to form the plan: PROS consulting gave recommendations for increasing performance and service levels as well as strategies for long-term organizational sustainability. MKSK revitalized existing plans for five new park projects and developed plans for several future park sites. And URS did an assessment of Lucas County’s open space assets and opportunities for the future. The plan created a vision that will guide the Metroparks for the next 20 years.

‘Turtle Dogs’
A program using trained dogs to locate box turtles at Oak Openings Preserve was recognized with a second place award in the Natural Resources Conservation category. The project was initiated by BGSU student Matt Cross, who will use the research in collaboration with Metroparks and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. John Rucker and his “Turtle Dogs,” from Tennessee, were hired to sniff out turtles in locations at Oak Openings where prescribed burns are used to restore natural areas. More than 30 Metroparks volunteers gave 267 hours of their time assisting with the research project.

Community Policing
The park district’s Ranger department received second place honors in the Law Enforcement
Community Policing category. While incidents in the Metroparks are low, the parks are not immune from crimes, such as “smash-and-grab” thefts from vehicles that have plagued the community at large. Using a variety of tactics, from signage to cameras and a volunteer patrol that has grown to more than 300 members, Metroparks has significant reduced the number of thefts from vehicles and engaged hundreds of people in the ongoing effort to keep the parks safe for all visitors.

Building Renovations at Secor
Finally, a major renovation to a facility at Secor Metropark received a 3rd place award in the Capital Improvement category for projects from $1 million to $2.5 million. The project included a complete makeover of the National Center for Nature Photography, a rental facility called the Secor Room and a Window On Wildlife nature center, all housed in the building. Exterior renovations included a plaza and landscaping. Improvements also include interpretive displays reflecting the park’s location at the trailhead of the Oak Openings Corridor, which stretches to Oak Openings Preserve.

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Scott Carpenter - Metroparks of the Toledo Area | Toledo, OH

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