Park District Earns National Accreditation in Parks and Recreation

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Oak Park, IL., November 16, 2020 Park District of Oak Park joins the ranks of elite park and recreation agencies across the country by earning re-accreditation through the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). This distinguished accomplishment was awarded during the 2020 NRPA Annual Conference: A Virtual Experience.

CAPRA accreditation is the only national accreditation for park and recreation agencies, and is a measure of an agency’s overall quality of operation, management and service to the community.This mark of distinction indicates that an agency has met rigorous standards related to the management and administration of lands, facilities, resources, programs, safety and services.

As part of the accreditation process, Park District of Oak Park had to demonstrate compliance with 151 recognized standards and document all policies and procedures. Often the process helps identify efficiencies and heighten areas of accountability, all of which translate into higher quality service and operation to benefit the community.

“The Park Board and staff of the Park District of Oak Park are extremely pleased with earning CAPRA accreditation once again. Preparation for this comprehensive review of District policies, procedures, operations, programs and facilities is a team effort,” said Sandy Lentz, Park Board President. “This achievement solidifies our District as a leader in the Parks and Recreation industry not only in the State but across the country,”

The process for accreditation involves a formal application, self-assessments, a site visit by a team of trained visitors that results in a written report, and a hearing with the commission to grant re-accreditation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s visitations were held virtually. The Park District will be recognized as an accredited park and recreation agency for a period of five years when the District will once again pursue the reaccreditation process.

The Commission is comprised of representatives from NRPA, the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials, the International City/County Management Association, the Academy for Leisure Sciences, the Armed Forces Recreation Network and the Council of State Executive Directors.

For more information about the Park District of Oak Park visit www.pdop.org. Additional information about CAPRA accreditation can be found at www.nrpa.org/CAPRA.

Park District of Oak Park Awarded $400,000 OSLAD Grant for Stevenson Park

Park District of Oak Park Receives OSLAD Grant

The Park District of Oak Park was notified in February 2019 by the Office of Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Natural Resourcesthat our community has received a $400,000 matching grant for the renovation of Stevenson Park. These funds are part of the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Grant Program which provides matching dollars for outdoor recreation space projects throughout Illinois.

Stevenson Park improvements, completed in spring 2020, include a new, accessible entryway which connects to a looped walking path and a new playground with an accessible surface. Adjacent to the playground is a game table area featuring chess and table tennis, the first table tennis in the parks system. The District also installed a hit/kick wall for lacrosse and soccer practice, a bioswale in the parkway along Lake Street and bike racks, benches and landscaping including native and ornamental trees and shrubs.

The Park District was eligible for this grant funding due to the successful passing of the “Renew Our Parks” referendum by Oak Park voters in April 2005. The local matching funds of $400,000 will come from the Park District of Oak Park’s Capital Improvement Budget. A site plan for Stevenson Park was completed in 2011 which is a requirement for an OSLAD grant application. Since the 2007, the Park District has secured over $6 million in grant funds from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to renovate 13 District parks including the construction of the Austin Gardens Environmental Education Center.

“This grant award, like the others before it, allows the Park District to improve our parks for the enjoyment and enrichment of all Oak Park residents while providing the opportunity to stretch our existing tax dollars,” Park District Executive Director Jan Arnold said. “The Park District is very grateful to Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for this grant funding.”

See the Stevenson site plan for more info.