PARA-- Serving Everyone with Excellence and Efficiency


three values that are essential to any successful community

 Economic Value

  • Parks improve the local tax base and increase property values. It is proven that
    nearby park land increases the value of privately owned land the closer such land is to parks.
  • Quality parks and recreation are specified as one of the top three reasons that business cites in relocation decisions in a number of studies.



Health and Environmental Benefits

  • Parks are the places that people go to get healthy and stay fit.
  • Parks and protected public lands are proven to improve water quality, protect groundwater, prevent flooding, improve the quality of the air we breathe, provide vegetative buffers to development, produce habitat for wildlife, and provide a place for children and families to connect with nature and recreate outdoors together.


Social Importance

  • Parks are a tangible reflection of the quality of life in a community. They
    provide identity for citizens and are a major factor in the perception of quality of life in a given community.
  • Parks and recreation services are essential in creating healthy, sustainable and equitable communities for all people.


PARA provides a variety of arts, parks, programs, recreational opportunities and arts to Tuscaloosa, Northport and the surrounding communities.  We have been serving Tuscaloosa County for nearly 50 years and have a record of excellent and efficient use of tax dollars.


Looking back...

In 1968, the local governments commissioned National Park and Recreation Association to conduct a study.  That study recommended the creation of a countywide park and recreation authority, a rapid increase of recreation funding and more park sites and facilities.

In 1969, the local governments met regarding funding of county-wide recreation. The Alabama State Legislature passed a local act to provide for the creation of the Tuscaloosa County Park & Recreation Authority on September 13, 1969.

Local governments reached an agreement and set the first year funding at $217,000.  A funding formula was based on assessed value of property in Tuscaloosa County. 

City of Tuscaloosa paid 52%. City of Northport paid 6.6%. Tuscaloosa County paid 41.4%.

In the 1970's, PARA began expanding programs to include leisure classes, athletics, supervised playgrounds, swimming pools & holiday programs. Partnerships were developed with local schools and PARA staff provided physical education for elementary students. PARA started "A Day in the Park", which transitioned to the "July Jubilee", now recognized as "Celebration on the River." PARA also took over the operation of the West Alabama Christmas Parade. In 1979, construction began on Sokol Park athletic complex, Bowers Park athletic complex and Snow Hinton Park.

The 1980's PARA's District Development Program began and the Bama Theatre was renovated. The 1990's introduced the first of PARA's Activity Centers. The Belk, Phelps and McAbee Centers were opened and the McDonald Hughes Community Center was expanded and placed under PARA Operation. 

Ol' Colony Golf Complex opened in 2000. The Bobby Miller Center opened in 2006 and PARA purchased 249 acres of land along Hurricane Creek "M Bend" in 2008. 

The past 10 years have brought significant growth in programming and facilities. The Faucett Brothers Center opened in 2013 and we launched the PARAfit program with included group fitness in 2014. The Bobby Miller Center was expanded and PARA partnered with Focus on Senior Citizens to make the McAbee Center a destination for local seniors.  Our travel program was revitalized and PARA4life was created.  Now we offer multiple day trips and extended travel for seniors. Van De Graaff Park, the first nature park in the area opened in 2016 and our Therapeutic Recreation team, the PARAtroopers just won their 13th straight title at the Special Olympics Softball state tournament.




Looking at today...

Today, PARA has an operating budget of over $13 million. The City of Tuscaloosa appropriates just over $4.5 million, Tuscaloosa County appropriates just over $3 million and the City of Northport appropriates $125,000. PARA is budgeted to generate over $5.8 million through fees and charges to meet operating needs.

PARA generates 42% of annual operation revenues compared to the national average of 29%. We keep our administrative costs low by a strategic use of a part-time work force, volunteer contributions, cross-training staff and community partnerships. 


Looking toward the future...

PARA's has a vision for the future of Tuscaloosa County. We look forward to continuing to serve Tuscaloosa, Northport and Tuscaloosa County with top quality arts, park and recreation programs and services.

Below you will see just a sample of our proposed park concepts. In order to make this vision a reality, we need a dedicated source of funding to help make the entirety of Tuscaloosa County a great place to call home.


Talk to Us

Questions? Concerns? Comments? Compliments?

We'd love to hear from you!