The Kansas Recreation and Parks Association selected Ottawa’s Goppert Teen Park as the 2020 Park of the Year.

The association recognized Ottawa’s Play Task Force and efforts to develop the Teen Park at their awards luncheon this past week in Topeka. Chairwoman Fonda Rose accepted the recognition.

The Goppert Teen Park was envisioned in 2014 through the Task Force’s efforts with KaBOOM! to identify a "Bold Goal" through a "Big Idea."

The goal was to decrease alcohol and drug use by teens in the Ottawa school district and the idea was to increase physical activity, social development and play through a dedicated teen area. This project was fleshed out by the team that went to KaBOOM!’s Play Summit that Mayor Linda Reed, Tommy Sink, Fonda Rose, Wynndee Lee and Doug Reinert attended.

"From the beginning, one of the ideas to challenge our group to think big was to imagine the headlines we would like to see," Rose said. "One of our dream headlines was for this park to be the ‘Best Teen Amenity in the Midwest or state.’ So this award is pretty close."

The Ottawa Recreation Commission, a member of the KRPA, submitted the nomination in late 2019.

"We really felt like this park deserved recognition around the state so that is why we submitted it for review," said Chad Bruner, ORC director.

The Power Point presentation during the awards recognition showed the many features in the park, including skate and bike amenities, basketball courts, agility course and more.

The Play Task Force also was a recent recipient of a gift from the American Eagle Outfitters Foundation for another component this spring. The new concrete table tennis table should be installed by late spring, similar to the concrete foosball.

The Play Task Force has an overall goal to get have all residents outside enjoying the parks and playgrounds to improve both their physical and mental health. The Play Task Force continues its efforts to encourage play, developing parks and annually hosting a Play Day during the summer.