Cary Wins Gold!

The City of Cary routinely ranks high on lists of “Best Places to Live in America.” One of the many factors that help to propel Cary to the top rungs of livability lists is its first-rate system of parks and recreational facilities. Everyone who lives and works in Cary understands and appreciates the meticulous planning and dedication to preserving greenspace that has gone into molding the city’s extensive network of greenways, parks and recreational venues for active children and adults.Validation of the town’s long-term commitment and success in this area came last year in the form of a national first-place award from the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) and its partner, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).The 2016 Gold Medal Grand Plaque Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management was awarded to Cary, North Carolina. Cary bought home the gold!

The purpose of the Gold Medal Awards Program is to recognize and honor communities that demonstrate excellence in parks & recreation management through stewardship of the land, commitment to environmentalism, volunteerism, long-range planning, program development and fiscal responsibility. Through its demonstrated achievements in each of these categories, Cary was able to grab the gold ahead of other finalists in its division – Arlington Texas; Grand Prairie, Texas and Beaverton, Oregon.

Local officials believe that it is both the size and quality of Cary’s network of parks and facilities that led to the award. People are drawn to Cary because they love the lifestyle and the city’s 35 parks and 82 greenways are a huge part of that lifestyle.Complementing the parks and greenways are community gardens, playgrounds, environmental programs, four sports venues, seven special use facilities and nine staffed facilities sponsoring programs for residents of all ages, including those with disabilities.

Among the many trails, sports venues and programs in Cary’s portfolio, a few stand out for their unique qualities and testament to the town’s commitment to the needs and wants of its citizens. Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve offers 140 acres for bird and wildlife watching and more than three miles of gentle trails with scenic overlooks.The Preserve is a joint project with the State of North Carolina and succeeds in blending a pristine natural area with interactive educational and historical exhibits.The Bond Park Challenge Course is an outdoor ropes course emphasizing exercise, team development and high adventure.The goal of the Challenge Course is to foster cooperation, trust, leadership and skill-building through a healthy mix of physical and mental challenges.

Cary Tennis Park, with 29 lighted courts, a clubhouse, locker rooms and beautiful landscaping, is one of the largest public tennis facilities in the Southeast. The park hosts about 20 professional and collegiate tournaments each year and, with a planned 55,000 sq. ft. expansion to accommodate seven covered courts, will now be equipped to host tournaments year-round.The USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, with 4 playing fields built to major league standards, is the home field for several college teams and host for the annual high school Tournament of Stars and USA Baseball’s college national team.

There are youth sports leagues, adult sports, senior programs, soccer parks, skate parks, summer camp for kids and classes in dance, performing arts, health & wellness and culinary arts. Many of the programs are open to Cary residents and non-residents alike.Rather than sit back on its heels following the gold medal win, Cary’s Parks & Recreation Dept. continues to think long-term, with plans to expand the greenway so that all parks and greenways in Cary will eventually be connected.

The rest of the country is now recognizing what residents of Cary, NC, including its many transplants from other states, have known for a long time. The City has a parks & recreation program that is second to none. Congratulations to the City of Cary and its citizens on its Gold Medal and a job well done!