Parks AccreditationOctober 17, 2018 -- Boasting more than 50 parks facilities on more than 18,000 acres of greenspace throughout the County, Westchester County Parks has, for the fourth time, earned the distinction of being accredited by the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA), County Executive George Latimer announced today. Westchester County Parks is the only agency in New York State to be nationally accredited, and the distinction makes the parks system a member of an elite group of 71 agencies that have been accredited since the program was introduced in 1994.

Latimer said: “This national accreditation by the NRPA is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a parks system, and sets it apart from thousands of other parks systems throughout the nation. We all may think that we have one of the best parks systems in the country, but this national recognition proves it. I am extremely proud of Parks Commissioner Kathleen O’Connor and her team of professionals in the Parks Department.”

The announcement was made at the NRPA’s annual conference held in Indianapolis. Latimer explained that the goal of the national accreditation program is to create a nationwide system of standards, which would allow parks and recreation agencies to compare their practices of what is considered a professional model. The standards would serve as a measurement of delivery of recreational services, and to identify their effectiveness in meeting the interests and needs of their constituents. Once accredited, an agency is expected to maintain these high standards and continue to improve on them over the next five years, when it must apply for accreditation once again. 

Commissioner O’Connor said: “Receiving National Accreditation means that our Department is accountable to Westchester County, our visitors and to our employees.”

Last year, an application for re-accreditation was submitted to the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA), which comprises representatives from NRPA, the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials.

Once the application was accepted, a special committee of the Department’s administrative and field staff was appointed to conduct a comprehensive self-assessment report. During a rigorous one-year process, the committee conducted an extensive review of parks systems, during which they provided narrative and documentation for 155 standards in major categories including: Agency Authority; Role and Responsibility; Planning; Organization and Administration; Human Resources; Finance; Program and Services Management; Facility and Land Use Management; Safety & Security; Risk Management and Evaluation and Research.

The self-assessment report was presented to CAPRA for a preliminary review last April, and was then followed up in June by a team of certified park and recreation professionals and experienced citizen board members from all over the country. During their three-day visit, they reviewed all of the documentation that had been submitted to meet each of the standards, then met and talked with parks staff as they toured several County parks facilities.

O’Connor noted that the team was extremely positive in their preliminary feedback. “Not only were they very impressed by the scope and breadth of our facilities and services, but they were equally impressed by what they said was the pride, morale and dedication displayed by the staff members they came in contact with during their visit,” she said.

For more information about the National Recreation and Parks Association and the accreditation process, visit

The Westchester County parks system features six championship golf courses, four pools and aquatic playgrounds, three beaches, the County Center, a first-rate sports/performance/civic arena, Playland Park a historic amusement park and boardwalk, Muscoot Farm an interpretive working farm, Lasdon Park, an arboretum and glass house conservatory, six nature centers, three major multi-use trailway systems and miles of hiking trails throughout the County. For complete information, go to