Evanston named finalist for prestigious park award


Daily file photo Sophia Bollag

The pond in Dawes Park. Evanston is competing with three other U.S. cities in its category for the 2017 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in park and recreation management.

Syd Stone, Assistant City Editor

Evanston was named a finalist for the 2017 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in park and recreation management, according to a Tuesday new release.

Evanston is competing with three other cities — Arlington Heights, Illinois; Mountain View, California; and Roswell, Georgia — in the Class III category, which includes cities with populations of 75,001 to 150,000. The prize is given out by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and the National Recreation and Park Association.

“We are extremely humbled and excited about being recognized as a Gold Medal finalist,” Evanston Parks, Recreation and Community Services director Lawrence Hemingway said in the news release. “Our team of professionals strives on a daily basis to provide the best recreational opportunities for all populations in our community, and is working toward making Evanston the most livable city in America.”

The finalists were selected by a panel of five park and recreation professionals and judges chosen for their “considerable experience and knowledge” in the area, the release said.

According to the release, the four cities in the Class III category will compete for the Grand Plaque Award honors, which will be announced at the 2017 NRPA Annual Conference in New Orleans this September.

The award, founded in 1965, is presented to communities in the U.S. that “demonstrate excellence” in parks and recreation with long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism and environmental stewardship, according to the release.

Evanston is home to 77 parks and seven community centers, the release said. In addition, 98 percent of households in Evanston live within half a mile of green space.

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