The City of Clinton’s own Parks and Recreation Director Jonathan Allen was announced the winner of the 2017 contest for “Our Winning Green Space.” Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) partnered with Project EverGreen and Exmark Manufacturing to name Allen the winner.
“It’s very exciting and fortunate for us to win this, especially with it being only the second year this grant has ever been offered,” said Allen. “It is pretty special to receive this award and to be gifted with such a great opportunity.”
STMA is the non-profit, professional association for men and women who manage sports fields worldwide.With more than 2,700 members across 34 local chapters, sports include football, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, softball, rugby and horse racing.
Project EverGreen is also a national non-profit organization committed to creating a greener, cooler Earth by supporting the creation, renovation and revitalization of managed recreational and athletic green spaces.
“The application was pretty simple, you just filled out a one-page application online and submitted it, then they contact you if you become a finalist,” replied Allen.
All entrants submitted an application outlining why their city deserves a renovated playing field and how new equipment will assist in maintaining a healthier, safer area for kids to play. Allen highlighted budget cuts in maintenance combined with an aging park infrastructure and increased park usage by local youth baseball, softball, soccer and football teams that have put a strain on the department.
Which is where Exmark Manufacturing excels, being an independent manufacturer of professional turf care equipment. Today, it is a leading manufacturer of commercial mowers and equipment for the landscape professional.
“The funny part about the whole thing is that we filled it out in June or July and we never heard back from them so we assumed we didn’t get it,” said Allen. “Then all of a sudden it’s September to October and they called us saying we were finalists and next thing we knew we had won it.”
“I’ve been with the Clinton City Parks and Recreation for five years now and it’s always been about making a difference in the community — not just for me, but for all of us here — that’s what drives us and anyone in this line of work,” Allen continued. “To see the smiles on kids and adults’ faces that use our facilities is what it’s all about. It brings me great joy when the things we do, like improve them with this contest, encourages and keeps people active in the park.”
And that’s the point, STMA officials said.
“Educating parents, field users and the public on the importance of upholding safe athletic fields is our primary goal,” stated Jimmy Simpson, certified sports field manager and STMA Board Member. “By using proper equipment and adhering to a well-organized maintenance schedule, turf grass professionals are able to take the necessary steps to prevent injuries and ensure a safe playing field.”
Since 2015, Project EverGreen’s community-based renovation projects have revitalized more than 750,000 sq. ft. of athletic and recreational greens spaces in Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, North Chicago, Ill., Belle Plaine, Minn., Greensboro and Durham, N.C., San Antonio, Ft. Worth and Round Rock, Texas; East Harlem, N.Y., Hazlet, N.J., Portland, Ore., and San Marcos, Calif.
Last year’s “Our Winning Green Space” winner was In Memory of Community Garden and the Warrendale Community Organization in Detroit. These two non-profit organizations, headed by Joe and Barb Matney, work with the City of Detroit to transform vacant city lots into community gardens and “pocket parks.”
Reach Michael Hardison at [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.