Joe Moore, outgoing assistant director of the Grapevine Parks and Recreation Department, had the chance to accept four more honors in his 12-year campaign to make The Vineyards Campground and Cabins first-class.
At the May 20 meeting of the Grapevine City Council, Moore accepted the Texas Association of Campground Owner-Operator awards for Park of the Year for medium-sized parks, Website of the Year, Accommodations of the Year and Event of the Year.
Moore, who is set to retire at the end of May and spent 12 years directly managing The Vineyards after the city took over the property in 2002, worked to keep his emotions in check as he addressed the council.
"These represent a lot of hard years," Moore said. "I'm going to miss it. But I'm leaving it in some good hands."
He called on several rows of workers and volunteers to rise in the audience.
"Without the people behind me, it would not have happened," Moore said. "These are the people that are behind us. They make The Vineyards Campground and Cabins as award-winning as they are, and I want to applaud them."
The history of their award-winning public image was crafted under Moore's guidance. Moore started in Grapevine in 1988 and has spent more than 20 years as an assistant director, working in operations and management over parks and recreation divisions. When the city took over the 850-acre Lake Grapevine property that is now The Vineyards, his task was to make the operation self-sufficient, Moore said.
"As such, I basically became a small businessman operating it with a profit-loss column on the balance sheet," Moore said.
The journey toward a healthy net bottom line required a considerable amount of education and determination, he said, but the industry has seen a boom that coincided with Grapevine's advance efforts to plan and prepare. After the economy's downturn in 2008, Grapevine's parks and recreation system was ready to feed renewed interest in local opportunities for relaxation and fun, he said.
"The industry itself was almost the total opposite of the economy because it was a cheaper way of getting out and having fun," Moore said. "The disposable income for taking long trips and having a robust nightlife and the like became more centered around making things more basic. 'Playcations' and 'staycations' became the buzzwords in the industry. We—the city of Grapevine—supported expansion and improvements to the campground and cabins out there just about at the right time."
Years spent growing the Vineyards, as well as years prior within the parks and recreation system in Grapevine, brought him close to his coworkers.
"You develop relationships," Moore said. "The people there are no longer just staff. They're friends. Really, those people are what got Grapevine those awards. If they weren't proud of [The Vineyards], I wouldn't be proud enough to submit them for consideration for the awards, and they wouldn't be qualified enough to receive the recognition that they have."
Kevin Mitchell, the new head of the Grapevine Parks and Recreation department, had nothing but praise for Moore's work.
"Just the improvements and changes Joe's made [at The Vineyards] to make it what it is today are a testament to his dedication," Mitchell said. "He lived it and he breathed it."
Moore leaves big shoes to fill, but Mitchell is confident the staff can continue The Vineyards' tradition of quality.
"It'll be different, but I don't think we'll miss a beat," Mitchell said. "It'll be a different beat."
In closing remarks to the City Council before Mayor William D. Tate led a standing ovation for the retiring assistant director, Moore urged a focus on quality to continue in the department.
"I hope to read more about these awards in the coming years," Moore said.