On Sept. 27, 2018, the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department joined the ranks of elite parks, recreation and cultural affairs agencies across the country by earning reaccreditation 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 2018 NRPA Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Representing the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department at the national meeting were Program Coordinator Kim Harris, Nature Operations Manager Linda Demetropoulos and former Assistant Director Michelle Park.
CAPRA accreditation is the only national accreditation for parks, recreation and cultural affairs 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. 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 accreditation.
In 2013, the department first received accreditation, then only one of 119 agencies that had achieved this accomplishment. Now, five years later, there are 178 distinguished departments in the country. Once accredited, the agency must uphold the standards by submitting an annual report and is reviewed again in five years to retain accreditation.
Director Steve Phillips explains, “The accreditation process motivates us to compare our operations against 151 Industry Best Practices and Standards. Meeting or exceeding these best practices has made us a better department, thereby more effectively able to serve our citizens in the highest-quality manner possible, while charting a course toward a new American city.” Phillips continues, “This is our intent: to be a new American city, where it is a matter of community pride to visualize, plan and mobilize resources for every neighborhood and everyone. From innovative new parks, to uplifting cultural experiences and recreational programming that appeals to modern audiences, PRCA is a leader on the national scene.”
The reaccreditation is the result of the dedication by the department’s staff, residents and support from other city departments. Since the adoption of the department’s Vision 2020 Master Plan in 2012, staff has focused on maintaining standards and metrics to gauge the level of service provided to the citizens of Gainesville. Going forward, this reaccreditation process will further establish the department’s mission to provide and maintain the natural, recreational and cultural facilities and programs that make Gainesville a great place to live, work and visit; and that help sustain the city economically, socially and environmentally.