Westerville News & Public Opinion

City parks department is a Gold Medal finalist

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Kevin Nichiyama performs a trombone solo with the Westerville Central Band Sunday evening, June 9, in the Rotary Amphitheater at Alum Creek Park, 221 W. Main St. The Concert Band performance kicked off Westerville's Sounds of Summer concert series. Sponsored by the Westerville Parks and Recreation Department, the free concert series continues at 6:30 p.m. each Sunday through Aug. 11, with Dwight Lenox set to perform June 16 and Grassahol June 23.
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By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Westerville's Department of Parks and Recreation may soon have another medal to hang on the wall.

The department has been named a top-four finalist for the National Recreation and Park Association's 2013 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management for communities serving a population of 25,001 to 50,000.

The winner will be announced at the association's national convention in October.

Departments are eligible to win the award every six years; Westerville won in 2001 and 2007.

"Right now, we're back-to-back gold medal winners, and we'd like to make it a trifecta," Westerville Parks and Recreation Department Director Randy Auler said. "This is like our Super Bowl. It's a big honor; just to be recognized as a finalist is a big honor."

Westerville also won the award in 1974 and was a finalist each year from 1970 to 1973.

To be considered for the award, the city submitted an application with questions about the department's strategic planning, marketing and communications, services and resident feedback, Auler said.

Representatives from the national association also viewed the department's website, recreation guide and printed materials.

Being nationally recognized helps the city with its economic development, and helps the city in leveraging resources, earning grants, engaging people and forging community partnerships, Auler said.

"It's another thing that the city can speak to, about being a gold winner. There are not a lot of communities in the country that can do that," Auler said. "Everybody wants to be associated with someone who is doing the right things the right way."

Auler said the award is a credit to the community, not just the department, because it is a testament to the community's support of the department.

"It's not only about our team as a department, or our team as the city, but it's about our community because our city has made such a significant commitment to the parks system," Auler said. "I'm just very excited for our community."

Other finalists in Westerville's class are Doral, Fla.; St. Charles, Ill.; and Winter Park, Fla.

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