The Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation Department earned two top honors from the Florida Recreation and Park Association this month.

The Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation Department’s commitment to providing quality, affordable recreation opportunities to the community has earned two top honors from the Florida Recreation and Park Association.

Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation won a 2020 Agency Excellence Award in the Community Building category for its efforts to serve and enhance the community through its 166 parks, 118 playgrounds, 53 community centers and nearly 50 sports complexes. The department also manages 55 youth sports organizations that served 26,439 youth participants last year.

The department’s accomplishments include the transformation of Lucy Dell Community Pond park from an overgrown water basin that attracted illegal dumping to an attractive pond featuring an LED-lit boardwalk and native landscaping.

The department also led the creation of Carrollwood Village Park, which turned a decommissioned wastewater treatment facility into a park with an amphitheater, fitness challenge course, skate park, dog park, splash park, inclusive playground and 24-hour gym for county deputies.

Also contributing to the department’s selection was the wide range of licensed after-school and summer camp programs, which includes the Positive Coaching Alliance curriculum. The programming includes a strong component for those with disabilities, and its fee structure is designed to make the camps accessible to all youth.

A wide variety of partnerships with community groups, including the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Tampa Bay Lightning, community homeowner’s associations and civic groups, were also a factor, as well as a strong community involvement, including more than 30 signature events.

Efforts to change the way the urban forest is managed, including development of an urban forest master plan that calls for planting 27,000 trees by 2024, were also featured in the decision.

In addition to honors for Community Building, Nature Program Specialist Brad Lympany was named the 2020 Rising Star for his work developing and implementing Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation programs and building relationships with the community.

Lympany was directly involved with several of the department’s most popular programs, including Hiking Spree, Senior’s Outdoor Active Recreation (SOAR), and Eco Adventure Camp. Lympany works with a wide variety of community groups, including Outdoor Afro, which is dedicated to getting members of the African American community out on hiking trails, and the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network.

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