The Westerville Parks and Recreation Department has earned the National Recreation & Parks Association's Class IV National Gold Medal for the fifth time overall and the fourth time in a row.

According to Kristi Ludlow, promotions coordinator for the parks and recreation department, the city is the first to win the award four times consecutively since 1996.

The city previously won the gold medal in 1974, 2001, 2007 and 2013, according to the city's website, westerville.org.

Randy Auler, director of parks and recreation, said a community is eligible to apply every five years.

Auler said the award is the equivalent to "the championship of parks."

The award honors communities throughout the country that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management and agency recognition, according to the city's website. Each agency is judged on its ability to address the needs of those it serves through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials.

Auler said winning the award has been a testament to the community and the park board's work but also reflects on the residents.

"It's also a tribute to our community," he said. "To win it four times in a row is just unbelievable."

He said the city gets a plaque for each recognition, with all of Westerville's on display in the community center, 350 N. Cleveland Ave.

Auler said winning the award does not specifically help with funding but shows its impact in quality of life given to residents and could be looked at as a draw for businesses to move to the city.

To learn more about the award or Westerville's parks, go to parks.westerville.org.

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