The Daily Plant : Friday, March 26, 2004
LAUDING PARKS & RECREATION’S BRIGHTEST STARS
Parkies from across the city gathered in the Arsenal Gallery on March 23 to celebrate the 14th Annual Awards, hosted by Commissioner Adrian Benepe. Following brief remarks from Commissioner Benepe, First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh approached the podium to present the Manager of the Year and Employee of the Year Awards to LeRoy Temple and Ralph Alfano respectively.
LeRoy Temple began his Parks & Recreation career as a City Park Worker 23 years ago. He now serves as a Park and Recreation Manager in the Bronx, overseeing some of the largest and most heavily used sites in the city, including Pelham Bay and Bill Rainey Parks and Orchard Beach. Whether helping maintain parks on the Bronx River, nabbing an illegal dumper, building a kayak launch, or setting up volleyball nets, LeRoy has been there, on scene, making things happen.
The Employee of the Year Award went to Ralph Alfano, Supervisor of Management and Operations of District 15a in the Bronx, a position he has held since 2002. The success of operations at Parks depends on district supervisors who are knowledgeable, hands-on, experienced, and dedicated to their parks and employees. Ralph has been a model supervisor. He was instrumental to raising his district’s overall ratings to 96.6% in 2003, while earning the respect of staff and community representatives.
Amy Freitag, Deputy Commissioner for Capital Projects, presented Angelyn Chandler with the Rookie of the Year award. Angelyn joined the Queens Capital Projects Team in January 2003. In just one year, Angelyn and her team installed $4.4 million of synthetic turf fields at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, completed the $3.8 million Flushing Meadows Playground for All Children, and spearheaded a $2.7 million project at Kissena Park Lake. Angelyn is now leading 25 construction projects and 15 design projects.
Deputy Commissioner for Public Programs Kevin Jeffrey gave the Elizabeth Stubbs David Award to Edwin Rodriguez. Edwin joined Parks & Recreation in 1988 as an Officer with the Mounted Patrol and was recently appointed Captain of Manhattan PEP. At the request of Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro, Edwin has successfully implemented new PEP initiatives, including Playground for Partners. Officers now systematically visit and inspect playgrounds and surroundings, checking closely for safety hazards that may affect children. Edwin has also stressed increased PEP interaction with the public, getting officers out of their patrol vehicles and greeting patrons in person.
Commissioner Benepe presented Megan Sheekey, Director of Public Information, with the Commissioner’s Award. Megan joined Parks as Press Director in November 2002, and has since overseen all media, both proactive and reactive. Her numerous years of experience in press and politics on a Federal and City level have informed her deft handling of a number of sensitive stories, and her leadership and knowledge have brought new energy to the staff. In this city which never sleeps, Megan is often called upon to handle urgent press issues on the weekends and after hours. The close relationships she has cultivated with other City agencies and City Hall press officers have proven extremely helpful to Parks & Recreation.
Commissioner Benepe presented the last honor of the evening, the Partnership Award, to the Central Park Medical Unit. In the 1970s, patrons of Central Park injured while cycling or skating often had to wait 45 to 90 minutes until an ambulance arrived. New York City’s emergency response crews were stretched thin, and many ambulance drivers weren’t familiar with the geography of Central Park. In 1975, a group of concerned citizens acted to change that. Through the sponsorship of the Central Park Precinct Community Council, the Central Park Medical Unit (CPMU) was formed, beginning one of Parks & Recreation’s most successful and long-standing public-private partnerships. Volunteer certified Emergency Medical Technicians have learned the nuances of Central Park and committed themselves to the care of its users. Over the last 29 years, the CPMU has responded to thousands of injuries and medical conditions in Central Park, both major and minor, free of charge. This non-profit organization has continued to grow and improve, and currently has a corps of over 150 volunteers, a permanent first aid station at Wollman Rink, and two fully equipped ambulances.
In recent years, new sporting trends, such as rollerblading, and expanded special events have increased the challenges in treating Central Park’s more than 20 million annual visitors. CPMU has met these challenges with fast and skilled medical care, helping to save life and limb.
Quotation for the Day"Those who wish to sing always find a song."