On June 7, Cranston Parks and Recreation Director Tony Liberatore was honored at the Rhode Island Recreation and Parks Association’s Annual Conference at the Roger Williams Casino, receiving the John “Jack” Cronin Award for 2019.
Liberatore was surrounded by family, friends and colleagues from Cranston as well as Mayor Allan Fung and City Councilman Ken Hopkins.
Scott Sevegny, RIRPA Awards Committee chairman and recreation program coordinator for Cranston Parks and Recreation, spoke at length about Liberatore before presenting the award.
“This award recognizes an individual in the field of parks and recreation for his or her outstanding contributions to the profession,” he said. “This recipient is personal to me. I have worked with him for quite a long time. I have learned a lot from him, and he has served the city of Cranston tremendously. He gives tirelessly of his time, even on weekends. The projects he has undertaken to make the city better are numerous, between playgrounds … renovating, by my count, 28 of 35 playgrounds and then installing three new playgrounds in his time.”
Sevegny noted that when Hope Highlands was turned into a middle school several years ago, Liberatore took on the task of getting a softball field built there.
“When [Liberatore] first came on, he had the synthetic turf put in at Cranston Stadium. He oversaw that and oversees the maintenance and operation of that, as well as many other things. He is respected by his men, he listens well to our concerns, to our needs, as we listen to him,” he said.
Liberatore received a round of applause as he came forward to receive his award. He thanked Sevegny and the committee for the recognition and then offered a special, good-natured designation to Fung.
“But first, I’d like to thank my lord and savior, Mayor Allan Fung,” he said, drawing laughter and another round of applause from the audience, including from Fung.
He thanked his colleagues, his wife, Sevegny, Fung and Hopkins for their support, noting his wife’s patience as his phone often goes off late at night or on weekends with possible notifications of an alarm being set off somewhere in the city.
Liberatore emphasized that it is the revenue brought in by the parks and recreation department that has helped the most.
“We have averaged, since 2007, $350,000 a year in revenue, renting fields,” he said. “Anything you want to do in Cranston, if you are not a Cranston resident, you pay. You pay to play. That’s the only way you can bring revenue in from my department.”
He shared that a second synthetic turf field is being built at Cranston High School West, a project that will be starting shortly.
“Cranston West will now have its own facility rather than playing at Cranston Stadium, which will free up more time for me to rent the field out,” he said.
Fung presented Liberatore with a special citation from the city of Cranston at the conclusion of the ceremony.