City of Akron and Akron Parks Collaborative Announce the Akron Parks Challenge 2024 Park Recipients

Akron, Ohio, June 28, 2024 —  Today, the City of Akron and Akron Parks Collaborative are thrilled to announce the recipients of the 2024 Akron Parks Challenge are Sherbondy Hill Park (Ward 3) and Prentiss Park (Ward 9), each to receive $150,000 in city-funded capital improvements with community engagement and design support from Akron Parks Collaborative.

This sixth installment of the Akron Parks Challenge, which launched on April 1, 2024, invited residents to pitch their vision for how to improve their favorite Akron park by collaborating with their neighborhood to support design, implementation and upkeep.

“The Akron Parks Challenge process puts community engagement at the beginning of the process, so that neighborhood residents themselves decide how to use their own park and also provide input on how they want it to look and feel,” said Akron Mayor Shammas Malik. “It’s essential to neighborhood health and safety to have engaged and active groups involved in solutions toward a more vibrant Akron.”

At Sherbondy Hill Park, the Akron Bengals Youth Football organization use the park now for programming and practice for 150+ youth and their families. The park currently has a parking lot and a mowed lawn surrounded by a wooded area. Their vision is to enhance the park with seating, a walking path, a pavilion and a small play space to promote a family atmosphere for both the organization and the neighborhood.

“By having a common space, the community would consider the park to build rapport and strengthen relationships,” Donte Swain, Sr. stated in the Akron Parks Challenge application.  They plan to engage local businesses, churches and neighbors in the process of designing the park.

“Congratulations to Sherbondy Hill Park on winning the 2024 Akron Parks Challenge,” said City Council President Margo Sommerville.  “We are so excited about the investment of resources, the construction of a pavilion, and the enhancement to community well-being that having such a gathering space will bring to the residents of Ward 3.”

The award to Prentiss Park comes on the heels of the Innes CLC 8th grade Changemaker Challenge team being awarded top place and $4,000 to make improvements to their park. These students plan to remain involved as they enter High School and continue to work with their teachers and other community members. First Glance, South Street Ministries, Better Kenmore and Councilwoman Tina Boyes were all part of the application to work together, “to reimagine Prentiss Park in a way that leverages Kenmore’s assets and programming partners to make it more of the intergenerational meeting space that Kenmore wants and so desperately needs,” according to their application.

Tina Boyes, Ward 9 Councilwoman, said, “For years, Prentiss Park was the recreational center of Kenmore but it has since fallen into disrepair. With this funding and the creative ideas of neighborhood students, residents and nonprofit leaders, we look forward to once again making it the fun and inclusive central gathering place our community has long needed. We are grateful to the Akron Parks Collaborative board for their confidence and support.”

The goal of the Challenge is to engage communities around neighborhood parks to create active and vibrant public spaces. The Challenge requires interested neighborhood residents and organizations to show how they will help engage their community around the process.

Submissions were reviewed by the Akron Parks Collaborative and were judged based on measures of community engagement, feasibility, equity and impact on the neighborhood.

"Both recipients this year have a strong focus on providing safe and vibrant places for our youth to play and interact,” stated Bridget Ambrisco, executive director of the Akron Parks Collaborative. “It is so important for our neighborhoods and our city at large to have active, welcoming, inclusive and safe places where kids and adults alike can go for recreation and relaxation. Our board and reviewers were impressed by the levels of enthusiasm and engagement around both these parks.”

The City of Akron and the Akron Parks Collaborative will begin working with the two core teams for each park to develop a plan for community engagement activities over the next several months—including public meetings, events, surveys and discussion with neighborhood stakeholders. Neighborhood designed capital improvements could begin as quickly as a year from now.

For more information on Akron’s Park Challenge, please visit akronparks.org.