Waukegan, Illinois (May 2, 2023) – The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association, named the Waukegan Park District a finalist for the 2023 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, the nation’s highest honor for park and recreation agencies. The Waukegan Park District is a finalist in Class III, the category for park and recreation agencies serving a population of 75,001 to 150,000. The Waukegan Park District won the prestigious award in 2013 and was named a finalist in 2012, 2013, 2019, 2021, and 2022.
Founded in 1965, the National Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the United States that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development, and agency recognition. Applications are separated into six classes, with five classes based on population and one class for armed forces.
Janet E. Kilkelly, President of the Waukegan Park District Board of Commissioners, stated, “The Waukegan Park District is proud to be recognized as a leader among the nation’s top park and recreation agencies. This honor recognizes that dedication of the staff to deliver excellence through high-quality park and recreation opportunities for our community.”
Jay Lerner, Executive Director of the Waukegan Park District, stated, “The national recognition from the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and the National Recreation and Park Association reaffirms that the Waukegan Park District is leading the way with innovative programming and exceptional parks and facilities. The Board of Commissioners and the staff display an unwavering commitment to meeting the needs of our community. With the ongoing support from our community, the Waukegan Park District is honored to once again be named among the best of the best park and recreation agencies in the country.”
The Gold Medal Award winners will be announced during the 2023 National Recreation and Park Association Conference, which will be held October 10-12 in Dallas, Texas.
About the Waukegan Park District
Established on December 26, 1916, the Waukegan Park District (WPD) has 53 properties and more than 742 acres of land, including the 18-hole Bonnie Brook and 9-hole Greenshire Golf Courses. Properties are managed to the highest environmental and conservation standards. Facilities operated by the WPD include the Field House Sports, Fitness and Aquatics Center, Waukegan’s Greg Petry SportsPark, Waukegan Skate Park, BMX Track, SplashZone, Percussion Playground, recreational centers, disc golf course, dog exercise area and agility course, outdoor sports fields, picnic areas, playgrounds, splash pads, and sports courts including basketball, tennis and pickleball. A full range of programs and services are offered year-round for all ages, from infants to seniors, as well as special need populations. Healthy lifestyles, wellness initiatives, and a connection with the outdoors and nature are integrated throughout programs, services, and special events. Arts and cultural activities are provided by the Jack Benny Center for the Arts, Waukegan Symphony Orchestra and Concert Chorus, and the Waukegan History Museum. We offer something for everyone!
A member of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD), Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA), and the Park District Risk Management Agency (PDRMA), the WPD employs 73 full-time and 219 part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees and is recognized by the IPRA as an Exceptional Workplace.
Nationally accredited by the NRPA Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) and State accredited through the IAPD Distinguished Agency Accreditation, the WPD has received the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Triple Crown Award for receiving the GFOA’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award, and the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. The WPD was awarded the NRPA National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management in 2013, and was named a Gold Medal Finalist in 2012, 2013, 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023.
Josue Pasillas, MPA
Waukegan Park District