History of the Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Department
The genesis of the Wicomico County Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Department began when a recreation commission was established shortly after World War II and the decision was made to create a living memorial to those who served their country in the war. Two separate concepts were combined: establishing recreation programs and facilities, and honoring the armed forces with a memorial that was more than just marble, metal and bricks. In 1947 property was donated by S. Franklin Woodcock to the County, which later became the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.
In the 1950s the Department or Recreation and Parks was established, the second one in the State of Maryland. During those years utilizing the City of Salisbury, school, and church facilities the Department was able to offer indoor and outdoor programs to the youth and citizens of the County, including summer playground and sports activities. In addition, the Recreation Commission also worked with the City of Salisbury to help design, build, and improve city parks. In 1959, the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center was dedicated and quickly became the center of community activities.
In the summer 1977 fire destroyed most of the WY&CC, but Salisbury community leaders, with the help of numerous donors and volunteers, rebuilt the facility bigger and better. Since the re-dedication in 1980 the WY&CC has been a center of community activities, concerts, special events and the home to the Recreation and Parks Department.
The first Wicomcio County parks were established in the 1960s as three properties were acquired to provide swimming areas for local residents. Lifeguards and swimming lessons were offered. In the 1970's, using the State of Maryland's Program Open Space the Recreation & Parks Department began in earnest to build the Wicomico County Parks system. Partnering with local groups who contributed funds, talent, and sweat equity, park facilities sprung up in the local communities of Sharptown, Mardela, Delmar, Willards, and Pittsville. The 1970s and 1980s also saw the parks department begin to address the need for athletic fields, local playgrounds, and community parks; in addition they saved a large property from development to be used as a 234 acre historical park called Pemberton Historical Park.
Currently the County Parks Division operates 39 facilities encompassing over 1400 acres of land, while the Recreation Division runs numerous programs with enrollment totaling 8400. The facilities, currently valued at over $32 million were built at a cost of approximately $3 million in local money. They include 32 ball fields, 34 tennis courts, 18 basketball courts, 20 playgrounds, 17 pavilions, 8 boat ramps, and 212 boat slips.
In 1982 the first 5 year plan was put together for Wicomico County Recreation & Parks. This State mandated Land Preservation, Parks, and Recreation Plan (LPPRP) was necessary in order to be eligible for state grant funds. The LPPRP is incorporated into the County-wide master plan.
In 1997 the County combined the operations of their indoor stadium (Civic Center), recreation, parks, and tourism divisions to create a new Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism. Combined with Enterprise Budgeting this partnership has allowed a pooling of resources to provide a better, more varied, and efficient delivery of service to their customers.
Gear up for your Thanksgiving Day feast at the 6th Annual Turkey Trek 5K at Pemberton Historical Park on Thursday, November 27. The race will wind through Pemberton's beautiful forests, meadows and wetlands. Enjoy pie after the race - it is Thanksgiving after all! Read More
Each year, community members dedicate over 5,000 hours of time to Wicomico Recreation, Parks & Tourism programs and events. These volunteers are honored through the Volunteer Appreciation Banquet each winter. This year's banquet will be held on Tuesday, December 2. Read More
Reserve your spot for our bus trip to New York City on Saturday, December 6. Spend the day on your own - take in a show, ice skate in Rockefeller Center, take care of some holiday shopping... the options are endless! Registration is open now! Read More
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