Kingsport, Tenn., is home to the Kingsport Birding Trail (KBT), which the National Park Service has adopted as its model for birding trails within all National Parks. The first trail that credits the KBT as its inspiration is the Biscayne Birding Trail in Biscayne National Park, Homestead, Fla. Beginners and seasoned “birders” alike enjoy the rich diversity of bird species on the KBT.
he Aztec Pavilion, located in El Paso, Texas, is a permanent installation completed by the city in June 2012. It serves as a functional and aesthetically pleasing public and performance space, while also standing as a renewable-energy resource and educational tool for the community. Located in a newly-created green space, the site features sidewalks, native plants and a solar-powered public art piece. The Aztec-inspired dome incorporates nine solar panels and was made with a combination of Corten steel, concrete and crystal prisms. It showcases an intricately cut steel ceiling that provides much-needed shade and pays homage to the Aztec calendar.
On May 19, 2014, city and community leaders hosted a ceremonial ribbon-cutting at Magoffin Park in one of the oldest neighborhoods in El Paso, Texas. The “pocket park” project turned a long-vacant lot into an urban oasis in the Magoffin Historic District. It was also the first project completed and opened to the public under the city’s watershed 2012 Quality of Life bond program. The Magoffin Park project cost $300,000. Community leaders characterized the park as a strategic investment in an inner city neighborhood that will complement investments being made by the state of Texas at the nearby Magoffin Home State Historic Site.
In total, El Paso’s decade-long Quality of Life bond program will include $473 million in upgrades to parks, museums, libraries, cultural facilities and the El Paso Zoo. Parks and recreation centers comprise the largest single area of investment.
Las Vegas recently completed a $30 million renovation of 60-acre Lorenzi Park. Over the past 100 years, this park has evolved from a rural lake resort for the workers constructing Hoover Dam, to a dude and divorce ranch during the 1950s, and finally to an inner-city urban park. Lorenzi features signage highlighting the extensive history of the park, an outdoor theater, an early learning center, historic senior center buildings constructed from used railroad ties, picnic shelters, lake fishing, a splashpad, themed play equipment, a rose garden, basketball courts, tennis courts, softball fields and an island bandshell.
The Pharr Aquatic Center has earned its position as one of South Texas’s favorite family destinations for safe, affordable entertainment. One of the community’s proudest moments was hosting hundreds of special-needs children and their families at the Center. Pharr Parks and Recreation Director Frank Marin coordinated with the local school district to identify and invite Pharr’s most vulnerable citizens to a day of cool water activity. The Pharr Aquatic Center represents the successes that come through cooperation, collaboration and a commitment to public service.
The Magic Forest Playground, located in Ormond Beach, Fla.'s, Nova Community Park, was built entirely by volunteers. Parents in the community realized there was a need for a newer, safer playground at the park, and formed an action committee. Backed by $160,000 in community donations and 2,000 volunteers, the playground was built in a week.
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, in partnership with the Fairmount Park Conservancy, revealed the city’s new “Park on the Parkway” in July 2013. The eight acres of public space located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway was dubbed “The Oval,” a park with community programming, events and activities. Designed to promote the Parkway as a neighborhood park for all Philadelphians, The Oval offers a wide array of activities and amenities, and features park spaces for all ages. In Fall 2013, programming continued with two pop-up themed weekends and a Drive-In movie series.
The Prairie du Chien, Wis., Parks & Recreation Department recently upgraded the Washington Street Park. The department says this new gateway to St. Feriole Island will be utilized by individuals of all ages, ability levels and outdoor interests. Some of the amenities include a blacktop hiking/biking trail, a fishing dock made of recyclable plastic, a canoe/kayak launch and an outdoor recreation center. The renovated park offers more opportunities for all age and ability levels to fish, canoe and kayak in a safe environment.
The Sinnissippi Park, situated along the Rock River, is the oldest and one of the most heavily utilized parks in the Rockford, Ill., Park District. This park was selected as the District’s Centennial Project to celebrate the past and provide recreational opportunities for future generations. The Sinnissippi Park Riverfront transformation included construction of the Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens topped with a green roof and mural depicting the rich history of the river. The park also includes the Eclipse Lagoon and Tea House, a new parking lot with “living wall,” a new boat dock, low-maintenance landscaping, bioswales and rain garden features.
The new Cascades Park, in Tallahassee, Fla., was conceived with the intent to relieve flooding downtown and create recreational opportunities in proximity to the capital. Local leaders also wanted to commemorate the site’s history and geographical significance.
Before design of Cascades Park could proceed however, the contaminated soils from previous industrial uses had to be removed. The former site of a coal-gasification facility, the area was designated as an EPA Superfund site, and in 2005-2006 remediation of the site was completed.
Cascades Park was designed to drain an area of nearly 1,480 acres, providing nearly 100 acre feet of stormwater storage – sufficient for a 100-year, eight-hour storm event.
Recreational and entertainment facilities include an amphitheater with more than 3,000 seating capacity, pedestrian bridges, the “Discovery at Cascades” play area, an interactive water play area and 2.4 miles of paved trails.
Local governments showcase the newest parks and recreation gems in a showcase of projects from across the country.
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