As the Saying goes, “good news is on the horizon”. As most of you know, the economy is slowly recovering and as a result Parks & Recreation Departments in the area have not endured further budget reductions. It will, however, take some time to restore their budgets to a pre-recession level. With this being said, it will be important for “Champions” from the private sector to step forward to assist the public recreation sector in helping provide services lost to the recession.

One of Partners for Parks’ main objectives for the coming year will be to help find these “champions” for various programs and park projects. It is long overdue for private entities to be a part of providing resources for recreation programs and parks. Two sterling examples this past year include the construction of Lincoln Heights Community Park and the donation of therapeutic recreation equipment to Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation. Companies such as US Air, Home Depot and British Petroleum (BP) stepped forward to donate both money and manpower for these projects.

Partners for Parks had additional help this past year from several private companies who recognize the value of recreation and parks. PfP’s has two “Premier” sponsors, The Blumenthal Foundation and LandDesign, Inc. for the coming year. Five “Patron” sponsors include Balfour Beatty, Landscape Structures, Duke Energy, Playcore/Cunningham Associates and Charlotte Flights Track & Field Club; and lastly four “Event” sponsors include Sonatrol, Blyth Development, Charlotte Tile and Stone Restoration and Pappas Properties. All these companies graciously shared their resources with PfP and we thank them for their donations. Their contributions will greatly help us carry out our mission this coming year.

This past year PfP was involved in several significant projects that supplemented the County’s recreational programs and facilities. As some of you know, one of PfP’s main missions is to keep restricted accounts for tax free donation made for specific recreational projects in the area. For example, PfP dispersed over $40,000 worth of donations for the construction of Lincoln Heights Community Park, and over $100,000 for the Revolution Park Golf course renovation. We currently have over 100 restricted accounts for specific recreational programs and facility construction.

Other projects included the opening and dedication of the Porter Byrum Natural Protected Area on July 27th and the sponsoring of a Trail Construction Conference at Reedy Creek Park this past winter. PfP also contributed part of our operating budget to help build the first nature play facility at Reedy Creek Park and to partially sponsor the “Study of Economic Benefits of the Parks and Recreation System” that was authored by the Trust for Public Land.

Our annual “Award Reception” was our last significant function of the year. It was held at Dresslers Restaurant in the Metropolitan adjacent to the Little Sugar Creek Greenway September 14th. PfP recognizes individuals, public and private corporations and a park project that have significantly contributed to improving recreation and open space preservation in our immediate region. Mr. Clinton Foust, a lifelong recreation expert, was presented posthumously the Brad Davis Lifetime Achievement Award and Mr. Porter Byrum was presented the Joe Cogdell Volunteer Service Award for his contribution of 27 acres of land to PfP. The Non-Profit Award was presented to the Charlotte Downtown Rotary Club for their contributions for the Little Sugar Creek Greenway Clock Tower; and the Corporate Service Award was given to the Carolina Panthers Foundation for their community work this past year.

This coming year we hope to grow our organization with several new initiatives. First we will be sponsoring the “Queen City Brewers Festival”. The event will be held at NoDa’s Neighborhood Theater on Saturday, February 4, 2012. Local Craft Beers will be featured along with great local food and live music. Proceeds will benefit PfP so please consider coming to the event. Specific information is located on our web site. Secondly, PfP will be introducing an expanded membership program to capture a wider audience in the area. Our web site was up-dated and facebook and twitter accounts were added to expand our social network. The program will include annual dues (tax free donation) and associated benefits. Additional information will be forthcoming early this year on this new program. Please keep up with us on any of these internet sites. In closing, PfP wants to thank you for your past contribution(s) and hope you will continue to be a part of our quest to improve recreation and open space preservation in the Mecklenburg region this coming year. Lastly, let us know your thoughts and ideas about our organization and activities on our social network.

Ed Schweitzer, President