Why Parks and Recreation are Essential Public Service | Sports Renovation & Management

Parks and recreation have three values that make them essential services to
communities:

  1. Economic value
  2. Health and Environmental benefits
  3. Social importance

Just as water, sewer, and public safety are considered essential public services, parks
are vitally important to establishing and maintaining the quality of life in a
community, ensuring the health of families and youth, and contributing to the
economic and environmental well-being of a community and a region.
There are no communities that pride themselves on their quality of life, promote
themselves as a desirable location for businesses to relocate, or maintain that they are
environmental stewards of their natural resources, without such communities having a
robust, active system of parks and recreation programs for public use and enjoyment.

Economic Value

  • Parks improve the local tax base and increase property values. It is proven
    that private property values increase the value of privately owned land the
    closer such land is to parks. This increase in private property value due to the
    proximity to parks increases property tax revenues and improves local
    economies.
  • A Texas A&M review of 25 studies investigating whether parks and open space
    contributed positively to the property values of surrounding properties found
    that 20 of the 25 studies found that property values were higher. “The real
    estate market consistently demonstrates that many people are willing to pay a
    larger amount for property located close to parks and open space areas than
    for a home that does not offer this amenity,”
  • American Forests, a national conservation organization that promotes forestry,
    estimates that trees in cities save $400 billion in storm water retention facility
    costs.
  •  Quality parks and recreation are cited as one of the top three reasons that
    business cite in relocation decisions in a number of studies.
  • Parks and recreation programs produce a significant portion of operating costs
    from revenue generated from fees and charges
  • Parks and recreation programs generate revenue directly from fees and
    charges, but more importantly, provide significant indirect revenues to local
    and regional economies from sports tournaments and special events such as
    arts, music, and holiday festivals. Economic activity from hospitality
    expenditures, tourism, fuel, recreational equipment sales, and many other
    private sector businesses is of true and sustained value to local and regional
    economies.

Health and Environmental Benefits

  •  Parks are the places that people go to get healthy and stay fit.
  • Parks and recreation programs and services contribute to the health of
    children, youth, adults, and seniors.
  • According to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
    creating, improving and promoting places to be physically active can improve
    individual and community health and result in a 25 percent increase of
    residents who exercise at least three times per week.
  •  A study by Penn State University showed significant correlations to reductions
    in stress, lowered blood pressure, and perceived physical health to the length
    of stay in visits to parks.
  • 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 often cited as
    one of the most important factors in surveys of how livable communities are.
  • Parks provide gathering places for families and social groups, as well as for
    individuals of all ages and economic status, regardless of their ability to pay for
    access.
  • An ongoing study by the Trust for Public Land shows that over the past decade,
    voter approval rates for bond measures to acquire parks and conserve open
    space exceeds 75%. Clearly, the majority of the public views parks as an
    essential priority for government spending.
  •  Parks and recreation programs provide places for health and well-being that
    are accessible by persons of all ages and abilities, especially to those with
    disabilities.
  • In a 2007 survey of Fairfax County, VA, residents of 8 of 10 households rated a
    quality park system either very important or extremely important to their
    quality of life.
  • Research by the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods
    indicates that community involvement in neighborhood parks is associated with
    lower levels of crime and vandalism
  • Access to parks and recreation opportunities has been strongly linked to
    reductions in crime and to reduced juvenile delinquency.
  • Parks have a value to communities that transcend the amount of dollars
    invested or the revenues gained from fees. Parks provide a sense of public
    pride and cohesion to every community.

National Recreation and Park Association
For more information on the value and benefits of parks go to www.nrpa.org