Anyone who hasn’t been out to a Guilford County park since before the pandemic will likely notice a world of difference between then and now if they do venture out there.

For years, the county’s parks system was subsumed under the Guilford County Facilities Department, and therefore parks projects often played second fiddle to county building projects.

However, in 2021, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners made the Guilford County Parks Department a stand-alone department, and that department has been making big moves ever since – so much so that the parks system just made it onto the cover of Recrea8 North Carolina magazine, a publication of the North Carolina Recreation and Parks Association dedicated to park systems and recreational opportunities across the state.

Guilford County’s parks system is featured in a big way in the Fall 2022 Recre8 magazine, with a cover headline and a lengthy photo-laced feature story.

In February, Guilford County Parks Director Dwight Godwin was named the director of the department after serving as interim director of the department that’s been very active – doing things like adding pickleball courts, holding free activities classes known as “Try It Days,” and putting on festivals, fireworks shows, grape pickings and more.

A few years ago, the county’s parks system was best known for not being able to get a kiddie train up and running despite pumping nearly three-quarters of a million dollars into the attempt over nearly a decade – a process that at one point even included sending the train to California and back.  As well as, not even having proper signage to let residents know where parks were.

Those days are in the past now.

In the Fall issue of Recre8 magazine, Goodwin states that the department is in the process of “reimagining” what the parks system can be.

“We have an opportunity to create a more equitable and inclusive park system,” he states in the article. “We’re taking a fresh look at our service delivery and making more data-driven decisions that support our vision.”

In addition to the well-known parks in the county such as Hagan-Stone and Bur-Mil – Guilford County has 10 passive parks and preserves as well as two marinas.

The system also includes three pools and some dog parks so that Fido isn’t left out of the family fun.

The Recre8 cover story goes into detail about the new Piedmont Discovery mobile app Guilford County created along with the county’s cities and towns in order to let people know what amenities and activities are available in local parks.

According to the article, Guilford County’s parks staff is “just warming up” when it comes to changes and adding new attractions, so Guilford County residents should keep an eye out for more improvements in the future.