MOORESVILLE – The Town of Mooresville’s parks and recreation department that oversees 15 parks became one of 250 departments in North Carolina accredited through the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The announcement was made during the three-day 2017 NRPA Annual Conference in New Orleans from Sept. 26-28.
CAPRA’s team visited and reviewed the parks and recreation department in June, analyzing the department’s information and determining if the town was ready for the next step, said Pam Reidy, parks and recreation director. The CAPRA accreditation is the only national accreditation for park and recreation agencies. Qualifications are based on the agency’s overall quality of operation, management and service to the community.
“It was important to us because we wanted an independent body to review our system and our programs to let us know whether or not we’re at national standards,” Reidy said in regards to Mooresville wanting to be recognized with accreditation. “It’s easy for us to tell the public we’re doing what we need to do, but it makes a much more impactful statement from someone outside telling us the same thing.”
To receive accreditation, each department must demonstrate compliance with at least 151
recognized standards and document all policies and procedures. This process, Reidy said, helps with identifying what departments are doing right and what they can be working on. While Mooresville was recognized for its multiple programming oppportunities and diverse engagement with residents, it was lacking in special needs and disabilities options.
“The report suggested that we’re doing a good job providing well-maintained parks and that we have really good relationships with our partners, but one of the areas we need to look at is having more ADA plans,” she said. “That’s a big undertaking often coming with a big price tag. But we’re in the talks of preparing a plan of how we’re going to make that happen.”
Reidy said the parks and recreation department hopes the accreditation will help with funding for additional programs and parks infrastructure.
“We hope this will help in securing future grants,” she said. “This demonstrates our confidence that we have our ducks in a row. It will also be helpful toward applications for awards.”
The NRPA Annual Conference also held workshops where representatives learned about best practices other park agencies are doing. Some of the bigger takeaways, Deputy Town Manager Angel-Wright Lanier said she learned about greenway planning and pop-up parks.
“We need to find ways to put down greenways and also work on innovative parks, kind of like small parks that don’t require too much time or maintenance,” she said. “They showed us how some parks in Detroit turn abandoned areas into small parks, the tagline was placemaking, and while we are blessed that we don’t need to refurbish our parks, having more innovative ways for play would be beneficial.”
Lanier also hopes to bring in more activities and park usage for adults and older residents.
“The big thing we do right is invest in park facilities. Mooresville has one of the best facilities I’ve seen across the state,” she said. “We just need to tweak little things – not everyone has kids so sometimes people aren’t aware how they too can use the facilities. We need to work on adult programming.”
Reidy presented the conference’s report on accreditation to the Mooresville Board of Commissioners during its regularly scheduled Oct. 16 meeting, where she thanked the staff for diligently working on documents and pages for the recognition.
“They completed the lionshare of the work before I came to Mooresville,” she said. “They ran the marathon, I simply took their hands to cross the finish line.”
A list of parks in the area can be found on, www.mooresvillerecreation.org.