CLEVELAND — Cleveland Metroparks was awarded the 2021 National Gold Medal “Best in Nation” Award for Excellence in Parks and Recreation Management during the 2021 National Recreation and Park Association Conference in Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday.
The award is given to public park and recreation agencies and state park systems in the U.S. that demonstrate excellence through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition, according to a news release from Cleveland Metroparks.
"We’re thrilled to be recognized among our national peers as the top park system in the country and bring the Gold Medal home to our communities in Northeast Ohio,” said Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian M. Zimmerman. “I want to thank Judge Anthony J. Russo, our Board of Park Commissioners, all of our dedicated staff and volunteers, as well as our passionate community for the tremendous support it takes to be recognized at the highest level. All of Northeast Ohio should be proud of our Emerald Necklace and what we have accomplished together for the betterment of our region.”
According to the release, some of Cleveland Metroparks’s recent accomplishments include:
- A record-breaking 19.7 million recreational visitors in 2020
- The addition of over 700 acres and 30 miles of trails across the Emerald Necklace
- Completion of the Re-connecting Cleveland TIGER trails project linking more than 66,000 Cleveland residents to the region’s trail network, the lakefront and Cleveland’s urban core.
Cleveland Metroparks generates an economic impact of $873 million every year to the region by enhancing property values, reducing stormwater runoff, improving local health and wellness and generating tourism, the news release states.
This is the fifth Gold Medal Award for Cleveland Metroparks in the program’s history. Park systems are only eligible to win once every five years.
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