The City of West University Place Parks and Recreation Department was honored with the prestigious Gold Medal Award at the 2016 Texas Recreation and Park Society (TRAPS) Institute Annual Awards Ceremony on March 4 at the Galveston Island Convention Center. West University Place is the only Class V (Populations up to 20,000) city in the state to receive this designation in 2016.
The statewide Gold Medal Award honors communities that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, community programs and events, public input, environmental stewardship, program development, marketing and promotional efforts and agency recognition. Award nominees are measured on the ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials.
“This award was made possible thanks to the vision and support of the electorate, Parks Board, Friends Board, Senior Board, overwhelming citizen support and municipal administrative personnel, the department has grown from a handful of neighborhood parks with minimal amenities to a system that includes state-of-the-art fitness recreation center, family aquatic and tennis complex, youth athletic fields complex, senior center, community building and scout house facilities, acquiring and developing three (3) new neighborhood parks, redeveloping the original five (5) neighborhood parks and knowledgeable volunteer and professional staff,” said Parks and Recreation Director Tim O’Connor, who was also presented with the Presidential Award of Honor during the ceremony in recognition of his leadership and dedication to TRAPS.
In addition, West University Place developed a parks master plan in 2000 and dedicated over $25M since 2004, specifically for either rebuilding or remodeling all of the city’s recreational facilities, redeveloping all city parks and acquiring additional parkland. The Friends of West University Place Parks Fund, Inc., a 502 (c) 3 non-profit and past winner of a TRAPS Service Club Award, has been instrumental in the overall redevelopment by contributing over $4.5M in charitable dollars. The department completed development of a new Parks Master Plan in March of 2015, which is intended to insure the department continues to maintain its assets and acquire and develop new parkland and facilities as needed.
City Manager M. Christopher Peifer said, “The City of West University Place is so very honored to receive this recognition for the forethought of its elected officials and appointed board members over the years and the extraordinary giving nature of its residents which supported the investment and unceasing efforts of staff to create a premier program for a premier City.”
The Texas Recreation and Park Society is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 educational and professional organization committed to advancing the field of parks, recreation, and leisure services in Texas. There are approximately 2,000 professional and citizen-advocate members of the Texas Recreation and Park Society. For more information, visit www.traps.org.
Pictured from left: Assistant Director Susan White, Director Tim O’Connor, Mayor Pro-Tem Bob Kelly, Councilmember Burt Ballanfant, Senior Services Board Chair Michelle Moore, Assistant Recreation Manager Jeremy Veld, Senior Services Manager Toby Brooks, Recreation Specialist Anthony Hagan, City Manager M. Christopher Peifer, and Friends of West U Parks Executive Director Donna LaMond