Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation has proved it meets high standards, as it is receiving accreditation for third time from a national commission formed by parks groups.
The Commission for Accreditation of Parks and Recreation Agencies notified parks officials Sept. 3 that the department did an “outstanding” job of meeting its standards.
LSPR first achieved accreditation in 2003 then reaccredited in 2008.
“It’s one of the industry standards for measuring your organization’s professionalism,” said Tom Lovell, parks administrator. “It’s valuable to us to compare ourselves against national standards.”
During each 5-year cycle standards are updated, so the department finds areas where it needs to make adjustments, Lovell said.
The process is that Lee’s Summit parks submits documents to CAPRA as evidence it meets the standards, followed by a site visit by CAPRA representatives to look at the department’s facilities and activities first hand. Lovell said he’s served as one of the site visitor for CAPRA.
“There’s been some communities that haven’t made it,” Lovell said. “If you’re not ready, you’re not ready.”
The self-review conducted by the department while documenting answers makes the department employees actively consider what they’re doing, Lovell said.
In the second round of accreditation in Lee’s Summit, Lovell said, the department learned it needed to improve its risk management strategy. It had insurance, but didn’t have a formalized department policy on levels of coverage, agreements with other organizations, and related issues.,
It also uncovered areas where the department could improve community education. Lovell said the department marketed programs and events, but didn’t really go further to explain how parks and recreation can support health in the community and other benefits. that’s now become part of its marketing, he said.
That resulted in the Did You Know and Friends of the Parks programs.
“If people don’t understand the value of what you do or you’ll never get the resources you need,” Lovell said.
Accreditation is based on meeting 144 standards for national accreditation. An agency must comply with all 36 Fundamental Standards, and at least 85 percent of another 108 standards. The three member CAPRA assigned Visitation Team concluded Lee’s Summit met all 36 Fundamental Standards and all but two of the 108 additional Standards.
Most of the full-time staff contributed to the effort, Lovell said. “This is a difficult and long process and the work done to achieve this designation is outstanding,” Lovell said.