Notable News

October 1, 2014, Department, by NRPA

Jim Ball - Longtime NRPA member, supporter and trustee Jim Ball, 69, died August 30 after recently being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Ball’s involvement in the parks and recreation industry dates back four decades, when he was board president of the National Student Recreation and Park Society Board of Directors from 1972-1973, and worked as director of the Roselle Park District in his home state of Illinois. Through the years Ball served as director of many park and recreation agencies, including Illinois’ St. Charles Park District, City of Vacaville, California, Department of Parks and Recreation and the County of Yolo, California, Parks Department. Just prior to his professional retirement, Ball was executive director of the Solano County, California, Land Trust. He then went on to found the nonprofit Parks and Recreation Trust and The Center for Imaginative Reuse, the latter of which benefitted the local community by providing inexpensive supplies for artists and educators and finding creative uses for landfill-bound items and materials. The Trust's first major project was to be the planting of a heart-shaped memorial grove at Lagoon Valley Park in honor of the 59 Solano County Vietnam soldiers who died in combat. Ball served as a U.S. Air Force medic during the Vietnam War, and also wished to create a 100-acre park in the county that would be planted with 5,300 trees in honor of all Californians who died in Vietnam.


-  An elementary school in NRPA’s hometown of Ashburn, Virginia, is poised to complete a new inclusive playground project. Discover Elementary School hopes to have its adaptive playground ready for students this month, following receipt of a large corporate donation from Texas-based Panda Power Partners. The firm is building a gas-powered electricity plant — scheduled to open in nearby Leesburg, Virginia, in March, 2017 — and reached out to county executives for ideas of community projects in need of financial aid. Loudoun County Chairman Scott K. York suggested the company donate $10,000 toward funds already raised by parent-teacher groups, which still had a substantial sum to acquire to cover the playground’s $152,000 price tag. Panda Powers instead decided to make up the entire deficit, meaning children of all ability levels will be able to enjoy their school playground before the winter snow flies.


- The City of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Tulsa County received what is believed to be the largest gift to a public park in United States history. In August, the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) donated A Gathering Place for Tulsa, an estimated $350 million value, which includes $50 million for operations and maintenance expenses. Under the terms of the gift, Tulsa’s River Parks Authority will acquire 58.37 acres of new park land on which Phase 1 of A Gathering Place will be constructed. The River Parks Authority will oversee construction of the public park, which will then be maintained, operated, secured and programmed by the George Kaiser Family Foundation Parks Conservancy, LLC. According to GKFF, the previous largest gift to a public park was that of $100 million to New York’s Central Park Conservancy. “By partnering with River Parks we are ensuring that [A Gathering Place] will continue in the same fine legacy that they have had as custodians of our River Parks trail system,” Jeff Stava, project manager for A Gathering Place, said in an interview with Tulsa World Newspaper. “This park will fall into that same line of excellence.”


- Cleveland, Ohio, is home to many great things — the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, majestic Lake Erie and James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, to name but a few. It’s also home to the impressive Emerald Necklace, Cleveland Metroparks’ expansive network of parks, beaches, trails, picnic and fishing areas, golf courses and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. In celebration of this northern Ohio “gem,” Cleveland-based Pierre’s Premium Ice Cream revealed a new flavor, aptly titled “Emerald Necklace Ice Cream.” The tasty treat features mint ice cream with chocolate cream cookies and swirls of thick fudge, as well as the warm, sweet feeling of giving back to the community. A portion of sale proceeds from each tub of Emerald Necklace Ice Cream will benefit the Cleveland Metroparks Trails Fund, which supports rehabilitation of the park district’s trail system.