‘Parknerships’ make a huge difference at NTPRD

Leann Castillo is head of the National Trail Parks and Recreation District. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Leann Castillo is head of the National Trail Parks and Recreation District. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

No one can do it alone, and in a time of shrinking budgets and staff, we at National Trail Parks and Recreation District (NTPRD) are grateful we haven’t had to.

Our partners in parks have helped us to build facilities and make programs that encourage more and more people to take advantage of our 24 facilities, nearly 1,000 acres of park land and 20 miles of multi-use trails.

That’s important, because in an era of tight family budgets, our “parkner-ships” have helped to provide places and activities close to home for people to enjoy time with their loved ones, improve their health and fitness, and relax in the great outdoors.

Most people know about the two facilities in the Speedway Children’s Park in Snyder Park: The ADA accessible playground built with $400,000 raised by the Springfield Rotary Club and Bethie’s Sprayground, built with more than $300,000 in private donations raised by the Friends of Snyder Park.

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Although we call that kind of cooperation synergy, the kids who enjoy time there just call it fun.

In some instances, our partners have joined hands with partners of their own.

When the Conservancy District helped us to improve the Snyder Park Lagoons by adding a pump from Buck Creek to restore water flow, the Strozdas Family stepped forward to buy fountains in memory of their father, Alfred Strozdas. The fountains improve both the look of the lagoons and the water quality at the spot where so many come to watch the ducks and throw lines in the water.

The always energetic Clark County Master Gardeners Club, associated with Ohio State University Extension, worked with us to initiate the still developing Snyder Park Gardens and Arboretum. Soon after, the Hollandia Gardens Association and the Springfield Kiwanis jumped onboard to raise funds for a Children’s Garden within the park. Private donations from Dr. Dana King and other local veterinarians helped build the dog park adjacent to the gardens.

But our partnerships don’t just serve Snyder Park. Last summer, South Vienna, South Charleston, North Hampton, Moorefield Township and New Carlisle partnered with us to provide free family movie nights — free in large part because NTPRD handled logistics and licensing fees with the help of business partners like Bill Marine Auto Center, Hometown Urgent Care and Madison Health.

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These programs continue the outreach that, through the 2001 capital campaign spent money on parks and recreation facilities in every township — facilities outside the NTPRD system — to demonstrate our desire to partner with all of Clark County.

Like other good things, partnerships come in smaller packages, packages that translate into the long list of programs published in the “Discover Parks” activity guides we mail out during the year. (The guides themselves are largely funded through donations and sponsorships.)

Sip & Dipity Paint Bar has added its painting classes our class list; Habitat Creations has offered seminars on raising prairie plants; and the NTPRD parks staff and local vendors taught a free class providing tips on how community baseball and softball programs can better care for their facilities.

The Clark County Solid Waste District also offered a seminar on composting, and the response was so strong that we scheduled a second session after the first one filled up.

In addition, we’ve engaged in a long and fruitful partnership with the Springfield Arts Council in the Summer Arts Festival, a smaller partnership with the Arts Council, Civic Theater, Springfield Symphony and the Ohio Institute for the Performing Arts has also created our summer Performing Arts Camp for children, one of the camps that always fills up quickly.

We also continue partnering with Project Jericho and its youth enrichment efforts. When the Wilson Sheehan Foundation provided a carousel horse to go with the Cinderella Pumpkin in Veteran’s Park, kids in the juvenile detention center, coached and encouraged by Project Jericho, did the painting.

“One Enchanted Evening,” the event that brought this all together, wasn’t just a hit here. The Ohio Parks and Recreation Association, which honored us with the Governor’s Award in 2014 for our partnership with the Chiller Rinks to operate the NTPRD Chiller, named “One Enchanted Evening” the best special event across the state in.

And when it came time to maintain the vitality of Project Jericho’s Project Scare-A-Crow, we stepped up as their partner to develop an idea that attracted yet another partner: the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, which helped move the display of scarecrows to the National Trail Commons on Columbia Street and open the competition to the entire community.

Just as we appreciate the help of the Clark County Sheriff Department’s PRIDE program in keeping our parks cleaner and the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office’s Graffiti Task Force for their willingness to carry out their mission on parks properties, we appreciate the Clark County Combined Health District, which obtained a grant from the Ohio Department of Health Warder Fit Stop, fitness park and make trail improvements, including fix-it stations for bicyclists using our recreation trails.

Although we haven’t really formed an official partnership with the growing population of coyotes, our partners at Wittenberg University have helped us develop a public information and scientific monitoring program called Common Sense Coyote.

But in challenging times, we’ve made a special effort to expand partnerships so that we can continue to provide services to our ultimate partners, the people of Clark County.

Thanks, partners. We appreciate your support.

Leann Castillo is director of the National Trail Parks & Recreation District.

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