Metroparks of the Toledo Area has been recertified by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, making it one of a select few park systems – and the first in Ohio – to receive the national designation.
Metroparks was first accredited five years ago, and recently underwent an extensive audit to determine if the park district still met the standards for accreditation. The re-accreditation was announced this week at the National Recreation and Park Association Congress in Houston.
In Ohio, six city parks departments have earned the accreditation, but Metroparks was the first regional park system to receive the CAPRA stamp of approval. Cleveland Metroparks earned the accreditation for the first time this year, it was announced Monday.
“When Metroparks attained CAPRA certification five years ago, that was a very big deal,” said Steve Madewell, executive director of the park district. “No other regional park district in Ohio had attempted to meet these rigorous standards.”
Madewell said the standards were designed to measure comprehensive recreation and park departments, such as those operated by cities, and not for nature conservation agencies like Metroparks. “For our park system to attain and maintain such a high level of performance speaks volumes about the agency’s commitment to service,” he said.
CAPRA recognizes park and recreation agencies that meet national standards for excellence in operation and service. Agency accreditation is available to all entities administering park and recreation systems, including municipalities, townships, counties, special districts and regional authorities, councils of government, schools and military installations.
“I was amazed at the size, beauty and ecological diversity found throughout the Metroparks system,” said Andre Pichly, recreation superintendent for the city of West Sacramento, CA, and leader of the team that conducted the assessment of Metroparks. “There are so many opportunities to exercise, explore, and connect with nature. Trails, woodlands, wetlands – not to mention wildlife, environmental education and historic sites – all add to the value these spaces have for local residents.
Pichly added, “And while people living throughout the area can access these parks, there is a tremendous opportunity here to have a significant economic impact on the region through tourism. In my eyes the Metropark system is a treasure that will benefit the greater Toledo area for generations.”
In the five years since the initial accreditation, Metroparks has had two new directors and an interim director. “In spite of this administrative turnover, we have been able to perpetuate a level of service and a commitment to excellence that is found in the best park agencies in the country,” said Madewell, who was named executive director in April 2012.
“We are so appreciative of the support we receive from our users, volunteers and citizens of the Toledo Area,” Madewell said.