Two Built to Play Skateparks Recognized by 2021 mParks Awards

In February 2021, two Built to Play-supported skateparks—Geary Park (Ferndale) and CommUNITY (Ypsilanti Township) were recognized for their excellence in design by the 2021 mPark Awards, designated by the Michigan Recreation and Park Association to recognize excellence throughout the state’s parks and recreation community.

“[These awards] are a way to acknowledge that the skateparks were needed, that the work done was appropriate, and that not only were the projects successful on a [local] level, but they’re now recognized statewide as awesome projects,” said Trevor Staples, skatepark manager with Built to Play.

Noted as the voice of Michigan’s parks and recreation community, mParks—the Michigan Recreation and Park Association—provides resources and professional development opportunities for park and recreation personnel and advocates; and highlights how parks and recreation improve quality of life and contribute substantially to the local economy. Its awards are bestowed on personnel and projects that embody the core values of the industry, and illuminate its many benefits.

For Ypsilanti Township’s CommUNITY and Ferndale’s Geary Park skateparks, both stand for the best in what mParks represents, as well as embody the vibrant and sustainable community impact that all Built to Play projects aim to make.  

CommUNITY skatepark—which opened in June 2020—earned their Facility Design Award for their environmental design, with storm water management capabilities implemented to both enhance the structure’s sustainability; contribute to (and complement) the ecology of their host park and prevent runoff into the nearby Huron River; and add a beneficial component to both its footprint and surrounding Ypsilanti Township community.

The skatepark at Geary Park was honored with a Park Design Award. As one of the first two skateparks enabled by Built to Play, the 2019 project set the bar for many projects to follow, with incorporation of environmental design elements now standard for every park, and community participation now encouraged in every project’s planning and design process.

Both were critical to the expanse becoming an award-winning site, and according to Ferndale Parks and Recreation Director LaReina Wheeler, it’s an honor made possible by the collaboration of the entire Ferndale community. 

“Parks and Recreation may have put in the leg work to make this park happen, but it was the community’s desire and participation in the process that drove our efforts forward and helped bring the community’s vision to fruition,” said Wheeler. “This award is just as much about their efforts as it is about ours.”

Since opening, both parks have made an enduring impact on their communities. This is what mParks acknowledgement rewards, and for parks and recreation departments across the state, each award shows that catering to the skating and biking interests of your residents doesn’t just enhance greenspace. It’s a way to earn appreciated recognition for transformational projects.

“This also shows other municipalities that building skateparks is a way to win awards,” said Staples. “It may not be something they immediately think of, but look what’s happening with these [mPark award-winning] parks.”

For more information on this year’s mParks awards or the Michigan Recreation and Park Association, visit To learn more about Built to Play Skatepark Grants, visit The Skatepark Project at

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