Welcome to Naturally.

Arlington has won the prestigious Gold Medal Award, presented by The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

In an effort to provide transparency to our citizens, while also showcasing a few of our proudest moments, we’ve chosen to post our 2018 nomination in its entirety through this landing page.

The Gold Medal Award honors communities throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management and innovative approaches to delivering superb park and recreation services with fiscally sound business practices.

Arlington was also named a finalist in 2014, 2016, and 2017.

Be sure to watch our video submission as a 2018 finalist.

Overall Satisfaction with Parks and Recreation

Looking at peer agencies across the United States, Arlington Parks and Recreation sets a gold standard in satisfying the recreational pursuits of its residents. Arlington ranked 25% above the national average in overall satisfaction with Parks and Recreation in 2016 among cities with populations of 250,000+.

Arlington
88%
Austin
74%
Minneapolis
73%
San Antonio
72%
Denver
68%
St. Louis
64%
National Average
63%
Ft. Worth
62%
Dallas
59%
Oklahoma City
59%
San Diego
53%
Houston
47%

Data from City of Austin Community Survey (January 2016) conducted by ETC Institute


Arlington Wins 2018 National Gold Medal Award in Parks and Recreation

ARLINGTON, TEXAS – Sept. 25, 2018 – A commitment to the highest level of service in parks and recreation has paid off for the Arlington Parks and Recreation department. They have been awarded the 2018 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), awarded this honor to Arlington during the Opening General Session at the 2018 NRPA Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff and elected officials.

“What an achievement for the parks and recreation staff, park board, numerous advisory and volunteer groups, and City as a whole,” Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said. “Our parks system is often the gateway into Arlington for many residents and visitors alike, and I’m thrilled to see our parks department receive this well-deserved recognition for the outstanding work they do on a daily basis.”

Arlington Parks and Recreation won the Grand Plaque in the Class II category (population 150,001–400,000). The department was also named a finalist for the prestigious honor in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

The other three finalists in Class II were Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation (Arlington, Va.), Tampa Parks and Recreation Department (Tampa, Fla.) and Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District (Beaverton, Ore).

A panel of five park and recreation professionals reviews and judges all application materials. Judges are chosen for their considerable experience and knowledge in parks and recreation on both the local and national levels.

“This award is significant in terms of the recognition it provides the agency on an International scale, but more importantly, it highlights the collective will of our residents, City Council and city staff in providing the highest quality of life for our citizens,” said Director of Parks and Recreation Lemuel Randolph.


2018 Gold Medal Application

2018 Gold Medal Winner. 2014, 2016 and 2017 Finalist

Gold Medal Award Questions

Gold Medal nominations are scored on the nine questions listed below. Each question has a specific word count, so it was not possible to include all APRD programs, events and initiatives in our response. Each agency was also required to submit a department website link, program brochure and executive summary of a comprehensive/long range/strategic plan.

Click on each question to see Arlington’s response.
• INNOVATION IN ACTION – The department recently partnered with the Texas Rangers to build the only Major League Baseball-branded golf course in the world.

Arlington will be the first of five municipalities to complete its portion of a 60-mile hike and bike trail connection that will eventually link Dallas to Fort Worth.

• CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT – 77% of residents visited a park in 2017 (highest among city services), with a 90% satisfaction rating. APRD has allocated $105M in capital projects over the next five years to meet the needs of our diverse community, with a growing list of partnerships (Texas Health, Mission Arlington, UTA, School Districts), programs (Mayor’s Youth Commission), and special events (Aging Well Expo, Cinco De Mayo Festival, MLK Day of Service).

• CONSERVATION – Environmental stewardship is at the forefront of every park design in Arlington. Tierra Verde GC and MLK Sports Complex were the world’s first facilities of their kind to be Audubon Signature Sanctuaries. Arlington completed a 2.5M renovation to River Legacy Science Center’s interactive environmental exhibits, exposing residents to the wonders of nature and their place in it.

• Arlington’s Make-a-Splash and April Pools Day events showcase a partnership with USA Swimming, Red Cross and Fire Department to provide free swim lessons and water safety instruction to at-risk families. We’ve educated 32,000+ residents since 2015.

• Our Youth Service Day brings students from all walks of life together to engage in self-selected community service projects. Last year, more than 4,100 youth participated by cleaning parks and other community improvements.

• Arlington partnered with Wounded Warriors and Mission Continues to assist military members with reintegrating in the community following service. This partnership equips veterans with new skills and networks, while making sustainable transformations through community service.

• We launched EngAGE Arlington in response to community feedback requesting additional events and educational opportunities for active adults ages 40-60. Activities included a Progressive Dinner with successive courses at different parks and an award-winning Yappy Hour dog walk.

• Our Let’s Enhance Arlington’s Forest (LEAF) program helps increase canopy cover by giving approved tree species for free to HOA’s, homeowners, and businesses. Over 22,750 trees have been planted through the program. Using i-Tree Eco software, Arlington determined that its building energy savings from the vegetative structure is $2.8M annually, highlighting the necessity of saving this urban forest.

• PUBLIC SUPPORT: Arlington enjoys unprecedented support from its citizens and brand advocates. This unwavering public support was evident in the passing of recent $105,000,000 parks bond packages, largest in department history, with nearly a 70% passage rate.

• CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT: Volunteers provided 38,495 hours of support in 2017. Arlington citizens are actively involved through Parks Board, Keep Arlington Beautiful, division-based advisory boards, Sculpture Trail committee, citizen-led special interest groups like the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association which maintains many of our off-street bike trails and “Friends Of…” groups responsible for assisting in facility creation, park upkeep and special events such as the ever-popular Star Gazing parties. Arlington created an Adopt-a-Spot program, where civic organizations, businesses, teams and families aid in beautification efforts.

• STAFF ENGAGEMENT: Arlington hosted its second Reindeer Games in 2017, with proceeds directed to our Adopt-A-Parks-Family. The event provided $550 in financial assistance and items from the employee’s family Christmas wish list. Employees have chaired city fundraisers for American Heart Association, United Way and Mission Arlington, and regularly serve in leadership roles in professional organizations. 11 employees have earned CPRP certification, while 67% of full-time staff have graduated from Arlington’s leadership development program. Arlington hosts a voluntary Lunch & Learn, where employees are educated on marketing strategies and emerging technologies.

• OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCIES: Arlington utilized the asset management platform Cartegraph to review two years of park maintenance data. Newly adopted workflow efficiencies resulted in labor savings of 18 percent, or 3,358 hours. We received Cartegraph’s “Excellence in Operations Management” award for this project and can now demonstrate the broad scope of daily operations and quantify the impact of special event support and catastrophe response to the public.

• CREATIVE MARKETING: With its new online registration platform, Arlington tracks Facebook and AdWords campaigns through the sales transaction, providing a clear ROI on marketing spend. Through targeted campaigns, performance fund revenue eclipsed $10m for the first time in department history, while cost recovery jumped from 74% to 81% since FY2014. By partnering with publications to write magazine content, the department received $44,500 in in-kind ad value since 2016, while Arlington’s referral revenue (program registrants from external sources) leads all ActiveNet accounts.

• COST RECOVERY: Despite operating with the leanest staff of any DFW parks agency (0.46 full-time employees per 1,000 citizens), Arlington sets a gold standard in satisfying the recreational pursuits of its residents. Arlington ranked 25% above the national average in overall satisfaction with Parks and Recreation in 2016. Arlington’s overall cost recovery was 41% last year, over 12% higher than the median average.

• ART IN THE PARKS – Arlington’s Entertainment District Sculpture Trail (EDST) was conceptualized to provide a natural respite from the built environment through art, and a way for 7 million annual visitors to appreciate the Entertainment District in a different context than inside neighboring stadiums of the Dallas Cowboys or Texas Rangers. The Sculpture Trail weaves through a linear trail adjacent to both stadiums, highlighting the works of local and national artists, and showcases between 15 and 20 sculptures at any one time as pieces are leased or sold. The parks department earns a commission if any sculptures sell while on display.

• FEEDING FRENZY – Arlington put a creative twist on the growing Food Truck Park trend by introducing FoodTruck Fridays, where the food truck lineup AND the location changed often, to get foodies familiar with our parks system. The series created a new revenue stream for the department, which collected 10% of gross sales from each food truck. Over 37% of survey participants were first-time visitors to that park location.

• INNOVATIVE TRANSPORTATION PILOT PROGRAM – Visitors to Arlington’s Entertainment District are able to catch a free ride on an autonomous vehicle through our trail system and be part of the U.S.’ first autonomous shuttle program open to the public. Milo is programmed to shuttle riders through two of our linear parks to all Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys games, as well as other large events at either venue.

• Our Build-a-Dream program has provided $216,000 in scholarships to over 4,500 children, ensuring all youth have access to programs and leagues.

• The department unveiled Camp Dream in 2017, which provided a 100% scholarship for summer camps to at-risk youth that came from the Arlington school district’s Office of Families in Transition.

• Arlington conducted a comprehensive public input process that focused on underserved communities after passing $105M in park bonds. Over 77% of the bond is directed to underserved communities, including an innovative rec center/library co-op.

• Arlington strives to increase opportunities for disadvantaged, minority and women-owned businesses to be awarded contracts for goods and services. The department has adopted a goal of 25% of contracts to be awarded to MWBE businesses.

• Arlington introduced a community health and wellness campaign called “Unplug-&-Connect” to get residents excited about unplugging from stressful daily demands and connecting with nature, fitness and wellness.

• Arlington earned a $60,000 grant to build senior exercise stations in two parks, providing convenient and free rehab locations and encouraging socialization for seniors among peers and younger generations.

• Our Walk & Talk town hall meetings pair a brisk stroll in the park with active community conversation between council members and residents. This led to the creation of the AgingWell health expo, attended by over 2,000 seniors.

• Staff partnered with UT-Arlington for an on-campus community garden to provide access to nutritionally rich foods. A portion of harvest is donated to local food banks.

• Arlington features the world’s first Audubon Signature Sanctuary municipal golf course and acquired equipment that converts used cooking oil into biodiesel to power mowers at $0.97/gallon, resulting in significant fuel cost savings and waste reduction. Biodiesel usage results in lower greenhouse emissions and reduced reliance on fossil fuels.

• Our IRRINet smart-water monitoring system allows staff to make immediate adjustments to irrigation practices by monitoring weather conditions, water usage patterns and remotely detecting leaks. This technology results in $53,000 in irrigation savings annually.

• Every Arlington 3rd-grade student (4,200 students annually) attends our conservation class at River Legacy Science Center.

• Through the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, Arlington is committed to restoring habitat through way-stations in our parks and educating citizens on Monarch sustainability.

• A devastating flood destroyed 100 apartments and 25 houses, but created an unanticipated opportunity to re-purpose 87 acres of property. Amenities of the new Rush Creek corridor include hike and bike trails, playground equipment, exercise stations and Arlington’s second dog park. Arlington also used federal funding to purchase and raze more than 100 flood-prone homes along Johnson Creek, located adjacent to the UTA campus. That site is now Julia Burgen Park, a 66-acre linear park that offers a hike and bike trail, covered playgrounds and pavilion.

• In 2016, Mayor and Council requested a comprehensive city-wide health & wellness forum for Arlington seniors, but there was not a line item in the budget for such an event. The department was able to offset all event costs by raising $45,000 in sponsorship and vendor fees. The Aging Well Expo included over 125 vendor booths and featured health screenings, fitness demonstrations and educational sessions for over 2,000 in attendance.

• Since the inception of its “Pay to Play” initiative, the parks department has operated with a keen focus on cost recovery. Arlington maintains a superior cost recovery record, including 81%+ recovery in the parks performance fund, nearly three times industry average. To combat cost-recovery challenges, Arlington has generated $565,000 in sponsorship revenue since 2015.

Parks and Recreation full-time employees per 1,000 citizens (FY 2016)

Arlington operates with the leanest staff of 12 DFW agencies polled in 2016.
Arlington
0.40.0
DFW Average
0.0.0

Cost Recovery: Revenue as a Percentage of Operating Expenditures
(General Fund & Performance Fund)

Arlington
41%
Median US Average (Cities 250,000+)
28.7%
 

An Eye To The Future

$25000000
in capital improvement projects over the next five years

City of Arlington Comprehensive Plan

Click the image below to see the full document.

PROS Plan

Click the image below to see the full document.

Health And Wellness

Role of Parks and Recreation on Health and Wellness

The nation’s public parks and recreation are leaders in improving the overall health and wellness of the nation. They are essential partners in combating some of the most complicated challenges our country faces – poor nutrition, hunger, obesity, and physical inactivity. Park and recreation agencies effectively improve health outcomes and thus should be supported through national and community level funding and policies that enable them to continue to expand their efforts in making a positive change in the health and wellness of our nation.

Public park and recreation agencies create healthy communities and play a fundamental role in enhancing the physical environments in which we live.

Through facilities, outdoor settings, and services provided, they support good health for people of all abilities, ages, socio‐economic backgrounds, and ethnicities. They foster change through collaborative programs and policies that reach a vast population to:

• Help reduce obesity and incidence of chronic disease by providing opportunities to increase rigorous physical activity in a variety of forms;

• Provide a connection to nature which studies demonstrate relieves stress levels, tightens interpersonal relationships, and improves mental health;

• Aid in reducing hunger in America and increasing access to nutritious food options;

• Foster overall wellness and healthful habits, such as becoming tobacco‐free and engaging in enrichment opportunities that add balance to life.

NRPA advocates for health and wellness capacity‐building of park professionals. We support increased public access to physical activity opportunities and improved nutrition through park and recreation agencies. We also advocate for increased funding for health research on best practices to create healthy communities through park and recreation agencies.

Public parks and recreation are the gateways to a healthier America, and they ensure that communities are truly livable.

Role of Parks and Recreation position statement provided by NRPA.

How has Arlington addressed the NRPA Pillar of Health and Wellness in the last three years?

• Arlington introduced a community health and wellness campaign called “Unplug-&-Connect” to get residents excited about unplugging from stressful daily demands and connecting with nature, fitness and wellness.

• Arlington earned a $60,000 grant to build senior exercise stations in two parks, providing convenient and free rehab locations and encouraging socialization for seniors among peers and younger generations.

• Our Walk & Talk town hall meetings pair a brisk stroll in the park with active community conversation between council members and residents. This led to the creation of the AgingWell health expo, attended by over 2,000 seniors.

• Staff partnered with UT-Arlington for an on-campus community garden to provide access to nutritionally rich foods. A portion of harvest is donated to local food banks.

Conservation

Parks are key to ensuring the health of our environment because they play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems, providing clean water and clean air, and enabling conservation of natural resources.

The mission of public parks and recreation at all levels should support the conservation and stewardship of land, water, and natural resources.

Parks and public lands serve an essential role in preserving natural resources and wildlife habitat, protecting clean water and clean air, and providing open space for current and future generations. Parks provide an essential connection for Americans of all ages and abilities to the life‐enhancing benefits of nature and the outdoors.

As the largest source of open space land in the country, parks and public lands are critical to the quality of life for all Americans. The quality of life for every person in every community is improved by clean, green, and accessible parks and open space.

Parks are key to ensuring the health of our environment because they play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems, providing clean water and clean air, and enabling conservation of natural resources. Park and recreation professionals should become leaders in protecting open space for the common good, and actively lead in sustainably managing and developing land and resources for public use and environmental conservation for the benefit of the public and the resources. In addition, park and recreation professionals should provide education and interpretation of the value of conservation to the public, connect children and youth to nature and the outdoors, and coordinate environmental stewardship with other public and nonprofit entities.

The benefits of conservation and environmental stewardship are many, including:

• Providing carbon‐reducing sustainable landscapes that cleanse air and water,replenish aquifers, reduce storm water runoff, and protect wildlife habitat;

• Offering the public access to safe, affordable, and healthy ways to experience and appreciate nature;

• Contributing significantly to the economic well‐being of communities through energy and resources conservation and providing many economic benefits to communities derived from outdoor recreation.

Role of Parks and Recreation position statement provided by NRPA.

In what ways has Arlington addressed the NRPA Pillar of Conservation in the last three years?

• Arlington boasts the world’s first Audubon Signature Sanctuary municipal golf course and recently acquired equipment that converts used cooking oil into biodiesel to power mowers at $0.97/gallon, resulting in significant fuel cost savings and waste reduction. Biodiesel usage results in lower greenhouse emissions and reduced reliance on fossil fuels.

• Our IRRINet smart water monitoring system allows staff to make immediate adjustments to irrigation practices by monitoring weather conditions, water usage patterns and remotely detecting leaks. This upgraded technology results in a potential $53,000 in irrigation savings annually.

• Every Arlington 3rd-grade student now attends a conservation class at the River Legacy Science Center.

• Through the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, Arlington is committed to restoring habitat and education citizens on Monarch sustainability.

 
 
 
 
 

Social Equity

Our nation’s public parks and recreation services should be equally accessible and available to all people regardless of income level, ethnicity, gender, ability, or age.

Public parks,recreation services and recreation programs including the maintenance, safety, and accessibility of parks and facilities, should be provided on an equitable basis to all citizens of communities served by public agencies. Social equity is a critical responsibility borne by every public park and recreation agency and the professionals that operate them. It is a right, not just a privilege, for people nationwide to have safe healthful access to parks and recreation.

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) believes park and recreation agencies,through the provision of equal access to parks and recreation,should cultivate community ties through programs and services for all which produces public benefits by connecting people more deeply to the fabric of the community. This sense of connectedness makes communities livable and desirable.

The benefits of social equity and universal access to public parks and recreation are many, including:

• Public enjoyment and engagement. Where parks and open space are plentiful and recreation services strong,residents enjoy the closest attachment and engagement within their communities; and studies indicate higher levels of local gross domestic product and economic well‐being;

• Quality recreation time with family and friends. Parks and recreation services provide a space and a reason to partake in enjoying quality time,relaxation, and fun among family members and friends,thus strengthening the social and familial bonds that provide balance and satisfaction in life;

• Improvement of mental and physical health. Parks and recreation can reduce the impacts of chronic diseases, especially in such vulnerable populations as children,seniors, and the under served;

• Measurable decreases in rates of crime and other detrimental activities. Communities are safer as a result of a wholesome atmosphere created by well‐managed parks and recreation services in communities through healthy activities and programming for all people.

NRPA encourages initiatives that increase social equity in state and local park and recreation agencies and their communities. NRPA works to achieve these outcomes through legislative and advocacy efforts,research and knowledge sharing, and providing practical tools to public park and recreation agencies across the country.

Upholding social equity is one of the core means of assuring the value of parks and recreation for future generations.

Role of Parks and Recreation position statement provided by NRPA.

Hover over the images below to see how Arlington has addressed the NRPA Pillar of Social Equity in the last 3 years.

Build-A-Dream

Our Build-a-Dream program has provided $216,000 in scholarships to over 4,500 children, ensuring all youth have access to programs and leagues. The department unveiled Camp Dream in 2017, which provided a 100% scholarship for summer camps to at-risk youth that came from the Arlington school district’s Office of Families in Transition.

Veterans Memorial

Arlington conducted a comprehensive public input process that focused on underserved communities after passing $105M in park bonds. Over 77% of the bond is directed to underserved communities, including an innovative rec center/library co-op.

Ecofest

Arlington strives to increase opportunities for disadvantaged, minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) to be awarded contracts for goods, services and construction. The parks department has adopted a goal of 25% of contracts to be awarded to MWBE businesses.

Naturally Fun

Arlington is a vibrant city that enjoys a high quality of life through great parks and exceptional recreational opportunities. These services provide a foundation for the physical, social, economic and environmental viability and well-being of the community.

The mission of the Arlington Parks and Recreation Department is to provide quality facilities and services that are responsive to a diverse community and sustained with a focus on partnerships, innovation and environmental leadership.APRD Vision & Mission Statement

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