To provide excellent city services that enhance the quality of life of the Lawrence community.
Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department, established in 1946, has continued its commitment in providing excellent city services, enhancing the quality of life for the Lawrence community. Over the years, the department has developed many programs for the community, including hike/bike trails, recreation facility operations, golf, forestry, landscaping throughout the community and Downtown Lawrence, cemetery and other quality of life programs and facilities. The department currently offers more than 550 programs and activities each season for citizens to keep active.
Lawrence Parks and Recreation has been recognized locally, statewide and nationally for excellence in programs and services. These include: local awards for the commitment in helping citizens live healthy, active lifestyles, state awards for programs, projects and the professional staff who create and implement programs. The department has also been recognized on the state level for its support of healthy lifestyle initiatives, including the State of Kansas Governor’s Council on Fitness Health Champion Award in 2013. Nationally, the department has been a finalist three times for the National Recreation and Park Association’s National Gold Medal Award for Excellence, the highest award an agency can receive in the field of parks and recreation.
Lawrence Parks and Recreation operates/manages/maintains:
- 55 parks and open spaces, measuring nearly 4,000 acres
- 3 recreation centers
- 1 sports pavilion
- 8 full-size basketball courts double as 16 full-size volleyball courts
- an indoor turf area
- a gymnastics room
- aerobic/fitness room
- cardio and weight areas
- 1/8-mile indoor walking/jogging track
- meeting rooms
- 2 community centers
- 4 swimming facilities
- 1 golf course
- 1 nature center
- 44 athletic fields
- 24 basketball/multi-use courts (indoor/outdoor)
- 19 picnic areas
- 3 cemeteries
- 30 playgrounds
- 15 tennis courts
- 2 skate parks
- 2 off-leash dog parks
- 2 disc golf courses
The department employs 78 full-time employees and nearly 600 part-time employees throughout the year. The department averages more than 750 volunteers serving more than 35,000 hours annually as youth sport coaches, assisting with landscaping, tending to animals at the nature center and cleaning up park areas. Lawrence Parks and Recreation maintains over 70 miles of biking, walking and/or hiking trails, with 37 distinct trails.
The department developed the Wee Folks Scholarship Fund to support youth in the community, providing access to its programs in 1996. More than $19,500 in scholarships are awarded annually to Lawrence youth to participate in the department activities. The department continues to create win-win partnerships with businesses in the community and annually recognizes them through the Friends of the Park program. Since 2002, more than $500,000 has been provided in monetary gifts and services from individuals, groups and businesses supporting the department’s activities.
Since the passage of a county-wide, one-cent sales tax in 1994, Lawrence citizens have invested more than $30 million to Parks and Recreation capital improvements, which include:
- $22.5 million Rock Chalk Park
- $10.5 million 181,000 sq. ft. Sports Pavilion Lawrence (opened in 2014)
- $12 million inrastructure of Rock Chalk Park (opened in 2014)
- $9 million Indoor Aquatic Center (opened in 2001)
- $3.2 million Eagle Bend Golf Course and Learning Center (opened in 1998)
- $2.9 million in renovations to the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center
- $2 million in renovations to East Lawrence Recreation Center (opened in 1997)
- $2 millon Clinton Lake Softball Complex (opened in 1997)
- $950,000 for Prairie Park Nature Center (opened in 1999).
The department continues to implement cost reduction methods and has outsourced mowing, cleaning and forestry services to decrease its cost of staffing and other expenses incurred.
Lawrence Parks and Recreation is committed to developing its programs and services in innovative, cost-efficient and effective ways to further enhance Lawrence’s quality of life.
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