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Syracuse Parks Conservancy selects first guardian

The newly formed Syracuse Parks Conservancy (SPC) collectively decided to honor a guardian on a yearly basis. This is an award given to an individual or organization that demonstrates "exceptional" commitment, vision, leadership and dedication to promoting and preserving the beauty of parks and green spaces in the city of Syracuse.

Mayor Matt Driscoll was given the Guardian Award at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 16 and he accepted enthusiastically.

"Mayor Driscoll was very deserving because of the time and effort he put toward the process of the creation of a Parks Conservancy," SPC president Mike Behnke said. "It came together on his watch."

"Besides the obvious the parks are definitely park of our economic development," Driscoll said responding to the importance of this green space in the city of Syracuse. He noted that there are more than 1,000 acres that touch in some way every neighborhood in the city and that new land has just been added in the Valley section of Syracuse.

It was decided that the guardian award would be given out each December. Nominations for this award may be submitted using an application from the SPC to the SPC Board of Trustees anytime between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30.

Several SPC board members were in attendance with Mike Behnke. City of Syracuse's Commissioner of Parks Patrick "Pat" Driscoll was also on hand. It was announced that he will be staying on as the parks commissioner with Stephanie Miner's administration.

Behnke said the board is thrilled to be able to continue its work with Pat at the helm. The SPC is a private non-profit citizens' group that was formed to work together with the city's Park and Recreation Department. Its mission is to coordinate volunteer efforts to aid the parks department in the maintenance and upkeep of the parks and to raise money to use toward those efforts.

"I wish we had two awards, as we'd have given one to Pat this year too," Behnke said.

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