The Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA) has announced its 2016 Annual Awards of Excellence winners. Mill Creek MetroParks Lily Pond Restoration Project placed 3rd in the Capital Improvement Projects under $1,000,000 category. “These award winners represent the best of the best in parks and recreation in Ohio,” said OPRA Executive Director Woody Woodward. “These programs and projects are changing the lives of people around the state and building better communities in Ohio. Our members are offering amazing programs and great facilities in communities of all types around Ohio. That diversity is a strength of our association and helps to ensure that citizens all over the state receive the benefits of parks and recreation.”
The Lily Pond Restoration Project was led by Mill Creek’s Planning & Operations Director, Steve Avery and Planning Manager, Justin Rogers. The goal of the project was aimed at restoring many of the original attributes and functions of the Lily Pond that had deteriorated from heavy use and frequency of visitors. “The challenge became how to improve access and visibility, improve environmental function, create more appeal, and maintain historic and natural character in a compact, defined space”, says Justin. The solutions include a floating boardwalk which allows a section of inadequate trail to be abandoned, two observation decks bringing visitors to the water’s edge, newly planted native vegetation creating seasonal interest and pockets of diverse habitat, a bioswale, biofiltration area, and permeable pavers which address storm water runoff and pollutants from entering the Lily Pond, and facility information that is readily accessible through interpretive signage and a new kiosk.
Throughout the state, 131 programs and projects were nominated, an increase from last year. In all, 18 different agencies have been recognized with 1st, 2nd or 3rd place awards. The awards were judged by a panel of 41 parks and recreation professionals from around Ohio.
The OPRA Annual Awards of Excellence will be presented at a banquet hosted by the association on February 14, 2017 at the Kalahari Convention Center in Sandusky in conjunction with the 2017 OPRA Conference & Trade Show. One 1st place award winner will be presented with the 2016 Governor’s Award for Parks and Recreation, a “best-in-show” award which includes a $500 contribution to the parks and recreation foundation of the winner.