County Parks Wins Pair of Statewide Awards

Onondaga County Parks took home top honors at the 2019 New York Recreation & Park Society (NYSRPS) Awards Ceremony held April 8, 2019 in Lake Placid. The annual ceremony recognizes the achievements and efforts in the field of parks and recreation across New York State. The winners included:


Commissioner Lansley with Debbie Keville, President, NYSRPS

Bill Lansley, Parks Commissioner - Outstanding Service Award for significant contributions to the advancement of the leisure field and active participation in community service. 

In the time Commissioner Lansley has been with the Parks Department he has created multiple beneficial public private partnerships such as the one with Galaxy Communications and the Lights on the Lake Program, and overcome several difficult economic hardships, such as, the budget cuts at Carpenter's Brook Fish Hatchery, where he utilized his extensive background in management to find new ways to save that facility and help it grow and thrive. A cooperative partnership with SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry was just one of the progressive ideas he pushed forward in this particular effort. He has also maintained a strong leadership role in the Friends of Carpenter's Brook Fish Hatchery attending every meeting, assisting in the planning of the groups co-operative event with the Federation of Sportsmen, Honeywell Sportsmen's Days and volunteering at their programs, teaching young children, seniors and those with disabilities how to fish.

Lansley has also become a champion for a variety of environmental and outdoor recreation/education organizations and issues. He serves on the Onondaga County Fisheries Advisory Board, the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, and the board of directors for the Onondaga County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, for which he is currently serving as their president, and the NY State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame. In addition to all of his environmental and conservation endeavors, he serves on the United Way Campaign Team for Onondaga County and has worked with Special Olympics New York, serving on the Games Organizing Committee (GOC) when the games were hosted in CNY.

Beaver Lake Nature Center New Exhibits - Exceptional Facility Design Award

In 2016 the Friends of Beaver Lake, hired Taylor Studio of Rantoul Illinois, to design, construct, and install the first new exhibits at the Nature Center in nearly 15 years. This project was seen as an additional way to connect our community to the outdoors. The exhibits create a deeper awareness of the complexity of the ecosystem, and or decisions that affect our ecosystems, including the management practices used to preserve the Center's and other local habitats.

The theme of the exhibits centers on the 5 habitats found at the Nature Center (wetlands, lake, forest, fields, and edge) and both the natural and human history of Beaver Lake.  Additionally, there is a life-size beaver lodge to crawl through and an exhibit on how all of us can become good stewards.  The exhibits have seasonal components in order to expand on the outdoor experience and offer a change for year-round visitors. The exhibits and signage complement the real experience of encountering nature.

The Friends of Beaver Lake raised $600,000 for the exhibits with the community support of larger donors and individuals including the Central New York Community Foundation, the Jon Ben Snow Memorial Fund and the Baldwinsville Rotary Club. 

Congrats to the 2018 CNYRPS Award Winners!

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(l to r - top) Maria Simmons, Stephen Wowelko, Leiko Benson, CNYRPS President (l to r - bottom) Laura Hand, Brian Nemier, Heidi Kortright, Carl Slater

Onondaga County Parks took home multiple honors at the 2018 Central New York Recreation and Parks Society Awards Luncheon held today at Drumlins Country Club in Syracuse. The annual ceremony recognizes the achievements and efforts in the field of parks and recreation in Central New York. The winners included:

Bill Lansley, Commissioner - David M. Guokas Memorial Award for significant contributions to the advancement of the leisure field and active participation in community service.

Mary Slater, Friends of Beaver Lake - Outstanding Service Award to an individual that over a period of at least five years, made outstanding contributions to enrich lives of individuals in neighborhoods, communities or the State of New York, through recreation, parks and conservation.

Brian Nemier, Onondaga Lake Park - Stewardship Award to recognize excellence of an individual/group in the stewardship of a park, buildings and grounds, or development of new facilities.
Steve Wowelko, Volunteer - Distinguished Service Award recognizes a citizen, community park board member or volunteer who has demonstrated exceptional efforts towards enhancing and supporting parks and recreation in their community. 
Beaver Lake Nature Center New Permanent Exhibits - Exceptional Facility Design Award
Dinosaur Invasion Billboard, Rosamond Gifford Zoo - Special Publication Award

Laura Hand, CNY Central - Media Award - Nominated by Onondaga County Parks for contributions to the promotion and acceptance of recreation and leisure through a job in the field of communications, including radio, TV, newspapers, and magazines.

Commissioner wins Outstanding Service Award

Congratulations to Parks Commissioner Bill Lansley who received the 2016 Central New York Recreation & Park Society "Outstanding Service Award" on Friday, March 3, 2017 in Liverpool. Bill is now in the running for the statewide award which will be announced at the New York State Recreation & Park Society Conference to be held in Rochester in April.


(l to r) George Boyle, Director of Operations; Bill Lansley; Kim Hall, Administrative Officer

Parks Awarded State Honors

Onondaga County Parks were big winners at the recent New York State Recreation and Park Society 2016 Awards and Recognition Ceremony held on Sunday, April 17 in Hauppauge, New York. 

The department won in the following categories:
Exceptional Facility Design - Lakeview Amphitheater
Excellence in Landscape Design - Beaver Lake Nature Center
Environmental Leadership -- Beaver Lake Nature Center
Multimedia - Parks & Fishing Websites
Outstanding Corporate Partnership - Parks & Wegmans


Parks Big Winners at Awards Ceremony

County Parks staff, facilities and partners won a total of nine awards at the 2015 Central New York Parks and Recreation Society Annual Awards Ceremony on March 10, 2016 at Skyline Lodge, Highland Forest. CNYRPS is the official organization for the leisure service industry in Central New York and the awards recognize outstanding achievements and efforts in the field of Parks & Recreation. All winners are automatically in the running for state honors in April.


  • Young Professional Award – Charlie Bisnett, Senior Recreation Leader, Onondaga Lake Park
  • Environmental Leadership – Beaver Lake Nature Center
  • Outstanding Corporate Partnership – Wegmans
  • Outstanding Service– Dimitrios Georgiadis, Syracuse Challenger Baseball & Cemetery staff
  • Stewardship Award – Friends of Carpenter’s Brook Fish Hatchery
  • Excellence in Landscape Design – Beaver Lake Nature Center
  • Exceptional Facility Design – Lakeview Amphitheater
  • Promotional Brochures – Parks Discovery Guide
  • Digital Content – Parks Website & Fishing Website 


left to right, front row: George Boyle, Director of Operations; Leiko Benson, Director of Recreation, Heidi Kortright, Beaver Lake Nature Center Director; Mary Harkola, Friends of Beaver Lake

back row: Bill Lansley, Commissioner, Charlie Bisnett; John Hluchyj, Friends of Carpenter's Brook; Pat Goettel, Beaver Lake Nature Center; Dimitrios Georgiadis

County Parks awarded State Honors

After winning the regional Young Professional and Media awards, Onondaga County Parks won two awards in the same categories at the NYS Recreation & Park Society Annual Meeting on March 18, 2013. Beaver Lake's Margaret Tzen won the Young Professional of the Year award and the Parks Mobile Website won the 2013 Multimedia Award, Class II.

resizedimage262172 2012CNYPRSawardswebCounty Parks Wins Trio of Awards

Several awards were bestowed upon County Parks at the 2012 CNY Recreation & Park Society Banquet on March 8, 2013. Congratulations to Debbie Dennis, Onondaga Lake Park Senior Recreation Leader, on winning the Program Leader Award and Margaret Tzen, Beaver Lake Nature Center Naturalist, on winning the Young Professional Award. In addition, a Speciality Publication & Marketing Award was given to the parks Mobile Website.

resizedimage269177 BLNCNAIawardFriends of Beaver Lake Receive National Award

In November of 2011, The National Association for Interpretation recognized the Friends of Beaver Lake for their years of support. The Friends received the Excellence in Interpretive Support Award. One award is presented each year to a business, agency, organization that has shown recognition of the value of interpretation through exceptional and sustained support.



BobElliswebStatewide Award for Longtime Parks Employee

Congratulations, again, goes to Bob Ellis who won the 2010 New York State Recreation and Park Society Award for Outstanding Service. The award was presented at the Society's annual Awards and Recognition Ceremony held in Saratoga Springs on March 23, 2010. Great job Bob! We are lucky to have you!

County Parks Wins Regional Awards

Congratulations to Bob Ellis winner of the prestigous 2009 David M. Guokas Memorial Award for Professional Excellence at the CNY Recreation & Park Society Annual Meeting on February 26, 2010. Bob, a 34 year Parks employee, is currently running Oneida Shores and Jamesville Beach Parks in addition to working on special projects for the department.

Parks also won the Special Publication and Marketing Award for the Cross Country Skiing Card that was distributed to 40,000 Onondaga County elementary school students in 2008. The card was designed to look like a snow globe and promoted outdoor winter fun in Central New York.

resizedimage300211 staffcroppedwebWorkplace Excellence

Great Job! Ten Parks employees were recognized by their supervisors for Workplace Excellence in 2009 at the Parks 2010 Policy, Procedure & Priorities Review held at the Zoo in January.

County Parks Employees Commended for Exceptional Service

Parks Commissioner Bill Lansley recently recognized four County Park employees for providing exceptional service to the public.

On October 19, 2009 dedicated Highland Forest staffers, Art Kiggins of Cuyler and Dennis Maher of Lafayette, were integral in a coordinated effort with the Onondaga County Sheriff’s office, including assistance from Air One, in the search and recovery of the Clay resident who died while he was in the 2,700 acre park in Fabius.

Park Ranger Frank Jordan of Syracuse was cited by park managers at both Jamesville Beach Park and Beaver Lake Nature Center. Jordan has been a mainstay in summer waterfront operations at busy Jamesville Beach Park, and also played the coordinator role with traffic and safety services at the 31st Annual Golden Harvest Festival.

More than 900 county residents recycled over 18 tons of paper as part of the ongoing environmental and conservation missions of the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency and Onondaga County Parks in October, thanks to the collaboration between OCCRA and Stadium Superintendent Brian Elwell.

EricSopchakSM12009 New York State Recreation and Parks Society Young Professional Award

Congratulations to Onondaga Lake Park Senior Recreation Leader Eric Sopchak, who was the recipient of the 2009 New York State Recreation and Parks Society Young Professional Award at the annual meeting held in April on Long Island.

In addition, Onondaga County Parks received the Society's Publication-Flyer & Poster Award for the "Are you Busy as a Beaver?" rack card and in the Exceptional Program category won for the Nature on Wheels program at Beaver Lake Nature Center.

Get Moving, CNY Honored

The New York State Recreation and Park Society awarded "Get Moving, CNY" their Exceptional Program Award at the April 1, 2008 conference in Saratoga. Kudos to the Onondaga County Health Department and Syracuse City Parks, who collaborated to create the program along with County Parks.

2007 Awards

The Central New York Recreation and Park Society announced that Onondaga County Parks had won the following 2007 Awards at their annual meeting on February 28, 2008:

Exceptional Special Event: Get Moving, CNY
Publication Award - Promotional Brochure: Fall Program Guide
Publication Award - Marketing: Beaver Tales, Beaver Lake Nature Center

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