Welcome to Naturally.

Arlington is again vying for 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 2017 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.

At the beginning of each calendar year, agencies are invited to submit applications for consideration, with a deadline of mid-March. Finalists are announced at the end of April, and the Grand Award recipients are announced at the NRPA Annual Conference in the fall.

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 local and national levels.

Arlington was named a finalist in 2014 and 2016.

“Let me say how grateful we are for the Parks and Recreation Department, because of their influence and the giving that takes place.”Tilly Burgin, Mission Arlington

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

2017 Gold Medal Application

2014 and 2016 Gold Medal 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.
• Our department mirrors the diversity of our city, evidenced by an annual third-party survey that shows 77% of Arlington visited a parks facility in the past year (highest among all city services), with a 90% satisfaction rating. Arlington has allocated $80 million in capital projects over the next five years to meet the educational and recreational needs of our diverse community, with a growing list of partnerships (TexasHealth, Mission Arlington, UTA, School Districts), programs (Mayor’s Youth Commission), and special events (Cinco De Mayo Festival, MLK Day of Service).

• Arlington is a CAPRA accredited agency built on decades of comprehensive planning to ensure continuity and strategic growth for future generations. Our Open Space and Skatepark Master Plans earned state recognition, while Arlington’s robust Hike & Bike Master Plan accommodates 200+ miles of trails, including a 60-mile connection between five municipalities from Dallas to Fort Worth.

• Environmental stewardship is at the forefront of every park design in Arlington. Tierra Verde Golf Club and MLK Sports Complex are the first facilities of their kind in the world to be certified as Audubon Signature Sanctuaries.

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

• APRD’s award-winning 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. These programs have educated 30,000+ residents since 2014.

• Let’s Enhance Arlington’s Forest (LEAF) program aims to increase canopy cover by offering 10 approved species of trees for free to neighborhood HOA’s, homeowners, and businesses. Over 20,000 trees have been planted through the program, including plantings to celebrate Arlington hosting the Final Four (2014) and first College Football Playoff Championship (2015).

• Youth Service Day brings youth 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, painting buildings and conducting other community improvements.

• EngAGE Arlington launched in 2015 in response to community feedback requesting additional programs, special events and educational opportunities for active adults 40-60 years of age. Group activities have included wine tastings to Motown the Musical.

• Public Support: Arlington enjoys unprecedented support from its citizens and brand advocates. This unwavering public support was evident in the passing of a $65,000,000 parks bond package in 2014, the largest in department history. Over 77% of Arlington residents visited a parks facility last year (highest among all city services), with a 90% satisfaction rating.

• Citizen Involvement: Volunteers provided over 41,035 hours of support in 2016. 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 and “Friends Of…” groups responsible for assisting in park upkeep. Arlington created an Adopt-a-Spot program in 2015, where civic organizations, businesses, teams and families aid in beautification efforts.

• Staff Engagement: Arlington hosted the inaugural Reindeer Games in 2016, with proceeds directed to our Adopt-A-Parks-Family. The event provided $550 in financial assistance and items from the family’s 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. Four employees earned CPRP certification last year, while 64% of full-time staff has graduated from Arlington’s leadership development program. Arlington hosts a voluntary Lunch & Learn, where staff members highlight marketing strategies and emerging technologies.

• Arlington implemented Cartegraph—a comprehensive cloud-based work, asset and operations management platform. Arlington deploys analytics-powered optimizations, actively monitoring real-time data to identify opportunities for efficiency gains. Utilizing over 50 iPads, the department has generated over 100,000 tasks and cataloged an inventory of 6,000 assets. The data gives the department a new tool for demonstrating the broad scope of daily operations, and quantified the impact of special event support and catastrophe response to city council and residents.

• To best maximize field usage at our largest athletics complex, Arlington introduced the Randol Mill Sports Initiative in 2016, which generated $238,000 in rental fees and brought an estimated 52,371 people to Arlington, resulting in a $1,728,243 economic impact. This partnership between the parks department and CVB centered on a targeted digital advertising campaign to youth sports organizations.

• Arlington performed an assessment of the vegetative structure, function, and value of its urban forest using i-Tree Eco software. This revealed a total of 2.97 million trees in Arlington (22.4% tree coverage), with a structural value of $2.75 billion. Each year, this canopy removes 568 tons of pollution (valued at $2.94 million/year), with carbon storage of 413,000 tons ($8.54 million/yr). Building energy savings is over $2.8 million annually, highlighting the necessity of saving this urban forest.

• Arlington’s Entertainment District Sculpture Trail (EDST) was conceptualized to provide a natural respite from the built environment through art, and a way for 6.5 million annual visitors to appreciate the Entertainment District in a different context than inside neighboring stadiums of the Dallas Cowboys or Texas Rangers. The EDST weaves through a natural setting, 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 initial theme for the trail was “Celebrate Innovation & Creativity.” The parks department earns a commission if any sculptures sell while on display.

• Recent innovations from the parks marketing team have brought private-sector marketing approaches to the municipal sector. With the transition to ActiveNET, Arlington is now able to track targeted Facebook and Google AdWords campaigns through the sales transaction, providing a clear ROI from specific advertising campaigns. Through creative social media content, Arlington generated 8,341,142 Facebook impressions through its parks feed in 2016. Always seeking innovative ways to reach residents, Arlington was one of the first in Texas to utlize the NextDoor neighborhood community.

• Arlington put a creative twist on the traditional food truck event by introducing FoodTruck Fridays, which featured rotating trucks AND facilities each series in an effort to better highlight our parks system to residents. The series also created a new revenue stream for the department, which collected 10% of gross sales from each food truck.

• Arlington is committed to ensuring all youth have access to our programs and leagues. The Build-a-Dream program has provided $216,000 in scholarships to more than 4,500 children since 2014.

• Arlington conducted a comprehensive public input process that focused on underserved communities after passing a $65 million parks bond in 2014. This resulted in $50 million in capital projects (77% of bond) being directed to underserved communities. Service examples include collaboration with local Hispanic and Vietnamese communities (representing 38% of Arlington’s population).

• 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.

• Arlington introduced a community health and wellness campaign called “Unplug and Connect” to get residents excited about the possibility of unplugging from stressful or burdensome daily demands and connecting with nature, fitness and wellness. The campaign earned national recognition by NRPA and a Texas wellness-marketing award.

• In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, Arlington partnered with UT-Arlington for an on-campus community garden to provide access to nutritionally rich foods. The half-acre garden includes a compost site and rainwater harvesting system. A portion of harvest is donated to a local food bank.

• Arlington has placed exercise stations in parks that are located in underserved neighborhoods, where residents lack access to traditional fitness facilities. Approximately 32,000 individuals are served through this new program.

• 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 $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.

Two significant challenges stand out based on impact to the community: environmental sustainability and increased community access:
• A devastating flood destroyed 100 apartments and 25 houses, and created an unanticipated opportunity to repurpose and develop approximately 87 acres of property in the Rush Creek corridor. Amenities of the new park include hike and bike trails, playground equipment, exercise stations. The site will house Arlington’s second dog park, set to open this summer.

• Arlington used federal funding to purchase and raze more than 100 flood-prone homes along Johnson Creek. That site is now Julia Burgen Park, a 66-acre linear park that offers a 1-mile hike and bike trail, covered playgrounds and pavilion.

• Acquisition of a 12.1 acre blighted multi-family apartment complex site created an opportunity to clear the property and develop the much needed High Oak neighborhood park.

• 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 79%+ recovery in the parks performance fund, more than twice the industry average. To combat cost recovery challenges, Arlington has generated $565,000 in sponsorship revenue since 2014, and operates under a lean staffing model that includes the outsourcing of many mowing contracts.

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%

Did You Know?

Arlington’s Parks Performance Fund has operated at
0%
cost recovery over the last four fiscal years, including 110% in the Golf Performance Fund (FY 2013-2016).

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 and Connect” to get residents excited about the possibility of unplugging from stressful or burdensome daily demands and connecting with nature, fitness and wellness. The campaign earned national recognition by NRPA and a Texas wellness-marketing award.

• In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, Arlington partnered with UT-Arlington for an on-campus community garden to provide access to nutritionally rich foods. The half-acre garden includes a compost site and rainwater harvesting system. A portion of harvest is donated to a local food bank.

• Arlington has placed exercise stations in parks that are located in underserved neighborhoods, where residents lack access to traditional fitness facilities. Approximately 32,000 individuals are served through this new program.

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.

Parkland as Percentage of City Area
7.7%
Percentage of Population with Walkable Park Access
55%
Natural Parkland
64.9%

APRD Major Conservation Efforts

Ecofest

EcoFest

Education is the main emphasis of this annual free event, where residents can talk with more than 25 eco-friendly vendors about everything from solar panels to the benefits of mulching. In addition, Ecofest offers numerous classes and demonstrations on environmental awareness. During the 2016 festival, the City gave away 750 trees, 1,000 bags of mulch, and 3,500 packets of butterfly weed seeds that will provide a habitat and food for Monarch butterflies.

Ecofest

Natural Areas

Arlington Parks and Recreation strives to promote and maintain the natural beauty of Texas wildlife through some of our natural areas like the O.S. Gray Natural Area and Southwest Nature Preserve. With an astounding 64.9% of all Arlington parkland consisting of natural area, Arlington Parks and Recreation continues to place conservation at the forefront of park development even in areas of high urbanization.

Ecofest

Tierra Verde Golf Club

It's hard to find a more beautiful course than the award-winning Tierra Verde Golf Club. Tierra Verde is the first golf course in Texas and the first municipal course in the world to be certified as an Audubon Signature Sanctuary. Walk onto the first tee and enter an environment where golf and nature come together in harmony. Opened in 1998, and carved from 250 acres of secluded terrain, the course's unsurpassed layout encompasses a variety of natural settings and offers an outstanding playing experience on every hole.

Mountain View

Keep Arlington Beautiful

The mission of Keep Arlington Beautiful is to educate and engage the Arlington community to take responsibility for improving their environment. Keep Arlington Beautiful supports Arlington’s initiative to nurture and grow an environmentally friendly and vibrant community providing our residents with ample opportunities for culture, beauty and play.

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.

In what ways has Arlington addressed the NRPA Pillar of Social Equity in the last 3 years?

Build-A-Dream

Arlington is committed to ensuring all youth have access to our programs and leagues. The Build-a-Dream program has provided $216,000 in scholarships to more than 4,500 children since 2014.

Veterans Memorial

Arlington conducted a comprehensive public input process that focused on underserved communities after passing a $65 million parks bond in 2014. This resulted in $50 million in capital projects (77% of bond) being directed to underserved communities. Service examples include collaboration with local Hispanic and Vietnamese communities (representing 38% of Arlington’s population).

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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