Since 1985, America has celebrated July as the nation’s official Parks and Recreation Month. This July, the National Parks & Recreation Association wants everyone talking about what they love about parks and recreation and why parks and recreation are so vital in our lives. 

What I love most about parks and recreation is the diversity it offers. It allows you to be competitive, trying to hit the grand slam to win the championship game; relaxed, spending time pool-side with friends and family; exhilarated, hiking to the top of the mountain; educated, learning about the history and culture of the community; festive, participating in community events. Parks and recreation offers diversity at its best!

The diversity of our community and your Parks & Recreation Department is no different. Where the difference lies is in how we prioritize our resources. The recent Bloomberg Business Week designation of Oro Valley as the best place in AZ to raise kids, and the Playful City USA distinction for the third consecutive year are indicators of a demographic shift. In light of Oro Valley’s changing demographic (we now have as many residents under age 50 as over age 50), we’ve renewed our focus on families and youth.  An example of this was the focus on kid-friendly arts and crafts, games and activities at this year’s 4th of July Celebration.

Oro Valley Town Council’s adopted 2013 Strategic Plan 2013 is also reflective of this movement. For example: 

“Enhance presence of Parks & Recreation programs, amenities, and events in Town publications.”

I’m pleased to report our new Fall Parks & Recreation Program Guide will be launched in August, with future editions planned for spring and summer.

“Support local, national, and international sporting events.” 

The new Oro Valley Aquatic Center is quickly becoming the prominent destination to host aquatic events, including the 2014 Synchronized Swimming National Championships.

“Seek to make continuous improvements to Town parks and facilities.”

An update of the Naranja Park Master Plan will begin this fiscal year, Steam Pump Ranch will receive more than $80,000 in capital improvements, the Town Hall stage improvements will be completed, and additional funding for special events will make for even better experiences.

As noted by Town Council in the Strategic Plan, parks and recreation play a vital role in our community.  Additionally, Council has restored funding for recreational programming and was the driving force behind the Aquatic Center expansion. 

Although we’re nearing the end of the summer season, there are still plenty of recreational options available. In addition to our wonderful multi-use trails, beautiful parks, and archery range, we also have an Archaeology Camp, an Amphibious Athletes Camp, golf instruction, and swim lessons for kids. The Aquatic Center is hosting dive-in movies, SCUBA lessons, water aerobics/Zumba, and $5 Family Fun Friday nights as well.

I invite you to enjoy the diversity of Oro Valley’s parks and recreation opportunities. To find out more, please visit us at    


(Editor’s Note:  Kristy Diaz-Trahan is the director of Oro Valley Parks and Recreation.)

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