TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The City of Tyler earned statewide recognition Wednesday for a park renovation project and a public safety campaign.
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On Wednesday, Oct. 14, as part of the 2020 Texas Municipal League (TML) Annual Conference, the City of Tyler received two 2020 Municipal Excellence Awards recognizing public works and city communications programs for cities with populations over 25,000. The awards recognized the City for its Hillside Park renovation project and Friendly Neighborhood Thief video series.
Three years ago, the City of Tyler Parks Department began work to create a new opportunity for the community by transforming Hillside Park into a city-wide and regional attraction.
The Keep Tyler Beautiful Board and private donors raised $70,000. An additional $280,000 was added from the half-cent sales tax fund to ensure the project was completed. Once plagued with graffiti, Hillside Park reopened in Spring 2019, featuring an art wall illustrating the stories of local artistic residents.
The park also features the largest concrete slide in Texas and the second-largest in the country. The revitalized park is enjoyed by residents and attracts visitors from throughout the state.
“This project has been a tremendous catalyst for community pride,” said Parks Director Russ Jackson. “With the art wall and one-of-a-kind slide, this playground rejuvenates the neighborhood and brings color and laughter to its residents.”
Also in the spring of 2019, The City of Tyler’s Communications Department partnered with the Tyler Police Department to develop a unique public awareness campaign – The Friendly Neighborhood Thief – for the Tyler Police Department to identify and prevent property crimes before they occur- including auto burglaries, home break-ins, and holiday package theft.
In each episode, the neighbor thief takes viewers along on his crime spree while pointing out how easy it is to be a victim of crime. This campaign was shared on Tyler’s social media platforms and website with over 100,000 views, and air regularly on the City’s cable channel 3.
In addition to contributing to a drop in property crimes during summer and fall 2019, this series has been both shared and duplicated by other municipalities.
“This project highlights the importance of creativity in raising awareness for issues like crime prevention,” said Tyler Chief of Police Jimmy Toler. “The more novel the message, the more likely it is that people will pay attention.”
“I’m proud of both the City Communications Team and Tyler PD for developing such a unique campaign,” added Communications Director Julie Goodgame. “It is incredibly satisfying to see our staff and our work recognized on this level.”
Members of the City Council and staff accepted the awards remotely as part of the City’s regularly scheduled City Council meeting.
“These awards recognize that these projects, our City Council’s direction, and our employees to be among the best in the state,” said City Manager Ed Broussard. “It is a great honor to our organization and our community.”
TML’s Municipal Excellence Awards recognize and encourage the achievements of Texas cities in meeting the challenge of municipal governance. Innovative problem-solving, excellence in management, increasing resident participation, and reaching toward higher service levels are all daily occurrences in Texas cities, and they deserve recognition.
This awards program seeks out the best of these programs to honor. Awards are given in two population categories (under 25,000 and over 25,000) and five areas (management innovations, communication programs, city spirit, public safety, and public works).
The 2020 TML Annual Conference and Exhibition was held virtually on October 14-16 and incorporated recovery and rebuilding-themed concurrent sessions, keynotes, and special presentations.
TML is a voluntary association of 1,160 Texas cities. Guided by its purpose statement—Empowering Texas cities to serve their cities—the League provides support and services to city governments. The City of Tyler is a member of TML.