Cleveland Metroparks is proud to announce the receipt of two first place awards from the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA). Brian Zimmerman, Cleveland Metroparks Chief Executive Officer, was selected as the "Professional of the Year" and Cleveland Metroparks Rangers took top honors in the law enforcement category for their accreditation by CALEA, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
Recognized as the OPRA Professional of the Year, Brian Zimmerman has been acknowledged in the field of parks and recreation as demonstrating excellence in leadership. Results of a brand health survey, conducted in 2016 with residents of Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township validate the leadership and strategic direction that Brian has established, resulting in a 13% increase in the overall impression of Cleveland Metroparks over the last three years. Zimmerman's leadership has been instrumental in activating transformative projects for Northeast Ohio, including the strategic acquisition of nearly 750 acres of urban parks, the opening of Rivergate Park in the heart of Cleveland's urban core and the 155-acre Acacia Reservation, a formerly private space that is now accessible to the public and continues to be restored to its natural state. This year alone saw several capital improvements including the opening of the new Fort Hill Stairs in Rocky River Reservation, the opening of Rosebrough Tiger Passage at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the groundbreaking of the new Euclid Beach Pier and Edgewater Beach House.
The core of Zimmerman's strategic direction is to link neighborhoods and preserve green space throughout Northeast Ohio. These efforts can be seen in new parks and trail connections, which include the Towpath Trail and the Cleveland Foundation Centennial Trail along the Cuyahoga River and the launch of the eLCee2 Water Taxi in Cleveland's Flats. Committed to civic engagement, Zimmerman serves as a board member on five economic empowerment, education and arts and culture boards in the Greater Cleveland Area.
"I am humbled to receive this honor. As we enter our centennial year, I am proud of what our organization has accomplished and delivered to the community," stated Zimmerman.
OPRA also awarded Cleveland Metroparks Rangers for the undertaking of the ambitious accreditation process, CALEA, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. This rigorous 36-month accreditation process included the review of all departmental policies and practices in comparison to more than 188 accreditation standards considered to be best practices in law enforcement. Cleveland Metroparks Rangers are now among the only four percent of American law enforcement agencies that are accredited, and one of only six accredited Park District/Natural Resources law enforcement departments nationwide.
The CALEA accreditation ensures that Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Department continuously strives to fulfill its mission of providing superior service and law enforcement through proactive, innovative and unbiased practices. With an emphasis on guest focus, the Rangers have held themselves to the highest standard as they continue to serve the Park District's more than 45 million annual visits.
The OPRA awards are judged by a panel of parks and recreation professionals from around Ohio. Applicants are submitted to a rigorous judging process, and the awarded agencies represent the best in parks and recreation in Ohio. Additional honors include second place awards for the eLCee2 Water Taxi, Park Culture 100 Onboarding program and the Future for Wildlife Marketing Campaign, and third place awards for the Your Parks, Your Stories oral history collection and the Hinckley Mirror Valley Resource Protection initiative.
2016 has proved to be an especially successful year for Cleveland Metroparks, packed with milestone achievements including the win of the 2016 National Gold Medal Award for excellence in Parks and Recreation Management, the award of the nearly $8 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, local recognition for Cleveland Metroparks impact on the community at the Vibrant City Awards and the receipt of a Downtown Development Award for the eLCee2 Water Taxi.