Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA) has announced its 2012 Annual Awards of Excellence winners, including Geauga Park District who won the following two awards.
Second place in the Park Area Development ($1,000,000 or Higher) category for its Observatory Park. Nearly 10 years ago, Geauga Park District became beneficiary of the unique gift of a sophisticated Newtonian reflector telescope with a universe-grabbing 25.5” mirror built by astronomer Norman Oberle. This donation became the spark that ignited a magnificent vision for a new park that would allow people to explore nature from the ground to the galaxies on a unique property now known as Observatory Park.
Observatory Park was designed to address the national priority for education in a unique fashion. Studies have shown that the United States is lagging in its efforts to nurture a new generation educated in the sciences, and it is estimated that the U.S. will need 200,000 new science and math teachers over the next decade. Observatory Park was designed to help meet this objective.
Built in phases, and completed in the spring of 2012, Observatory Park features a central plaza, the Oberle Observatory, the Robert McCullough Science Center and more than a mile of interpretive trails that teach about each planet in our solar system and all about weather. Other features include telescope pads where amateur astronomers may gather for night sky observation, a human sundial, day and night gardens, Great Pyramid cornerstones, henge structures and earthen mounds, to name a few.
Orchard Hills Park
Third place in the Natural Resources and Conservation category for its Restoration of Orchard Hills Park
The opportunity to restore approximately 237 acres of the former Orchard Hills Golf Course in Chester Township to a natural park aligned directly with Geauga Park District’s mission to preserve, conserve, and protect the natural features of the county and to provide the opportunity for people to enjoy and appreciate those resources.
Through a partnership with Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC) and funds from the Ohio EPA Water Resources Restoration Sponsorship Program (WRRSP), OEPA 319 grant and the Clean Ohio Fund, Orchard Hills Park now serves as a notable water resource preservation and ecological restoration project site for the Northeastern Ohio region.
The project involved stream restoration and wetland creation, both of which enhanced 920 linear feet of Caves Creek, a designated cold water habitat tributary of the state scenic Chagrin River that runs through the site. The project also included reforestation of 80 acres of former fairway and the development of park amenities that would provide ready access for diverse park users.
“Once again, we’re so honored to be recognized by our peers in this way,” said Paige Orvis, Geauga Park District’s marketing and administrative services director, who joined other staff last year to collect awards for the Park District’s 50th anniversary time capsule project and its Caveman Crawl 5K Trail Run marketing campaign.
“We’d also like to congratulate our neighbors at Lake Metroparks for claiming third place in the Senior & Active Adult Programs category with Pancakes in the Parks with Boating Experience.”
Throughout the state, 151 park projects in 21 categories were nominated. In all, more than 30 agencies have now been recognized with first, second and third place awards.
“These 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.”
The OPRA Annual Awards of Excellence will be presented at a banquet hosted by the association on February 26, 2013 at Battelle Hall North at the Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. All were judged in a two-tiered process, which includes a panel of parks and recreation professionals from around Ohio, as well as the association’s Board of Directors.
Incorporated in 1963, the OPRA is a non-profit, public interest organization representing over 1300 professionals and citizen board members striving to provide quality parks and recreation facilities and opportunities for all Ohioans while protecting and preserving Ohio’s natural resources, positively impacting local economies and health and wellness of its citizens. Ohio has become known as a trendsetter in the nation with parks and recreation often singled out for national test markets and pilot programs.