Contact: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

TRENTON, N.J. -Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes proudly announced today that the Marina at Mercer County Park has been selected as the winner of the 2007-2008 Excellence in Design Award by the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association.

This is the first time in the history of the Mercer County Park Commission that the county has won this award, said Hughes.

"We are absolutely thrilled that the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association selected our Marina for this prestigious award," said Hughes. "I am so proud of the work by Parks Director Kevin Bannon, the entire Parks Commission, and all the County workers who put a tremendous amount of energy toward this project, taking it from a vision to an award-winning reality."

The planning phase of the "Lakeside Village" project began in 2004 under the guidance of Bannon, who recognized the potential for an underutilized area of Mercer County Park and an underserved population of parks users, children with motor disabilities. An open field adjacent to the existing boat house was eyed for improvements.

"I am so pleased that the NJRPA has recognized this wonderful project. The byproduct of our staff's vision and enormous effort is a marina setting that offers so many activities and opportunities to our diverse patrons who visit this gorgeous area in Mercer County Park," Bannon said.

Through careful planning, use of in-house resources and staff and with the monetary assistance of the Trenton Rotary, Mercer County in the summer, 2007, cut the ribbon on this beautiful section of parkland. Among the improvements made were: the creation of a 10,500 square-foot "barrier free" playground; paddleboat refurbishments; installation of three permanent pavilions; improved trail connections; extensive seating; new landscaping, water fountains and lighting; redevelopment of boat launch to accommodate canoes, sailboats and kayaks; purchase of 18-person pontoon boat for nature tours and group rentals; and partnering with the Council on Aging to create "Grandparents Grove," a scenic overlook of Lake Mercer.

The NJRPA has been giving awards to park and recreational programs for 30 years, and this is the first for Mercer County, Bannon said.

The award presentation will be made at the NJRPA 33rd Annual Conference Awards Dinner at the Trump Taj Mahal Hotel in Atlantic City on March 4, 2008. The goal of the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association Awards Program is to focus state attention on the achievement of Park and Recreation agencies, to recognize the continuing efforts of staff and volunteers, and to acknowledge support extended by member agencies. Since 1978 the NJRPA has recognized outstanding contributions to the field of parks, recreation, leisure services and natural resource management through the NJRPA Annual Awards Program. The Facilities Design Award for the Marina Improvements project marks the first NJRPA Award presented to the Mercer County Park Commission in the 30 year history of the awards.