Building quality of place and boosting economic development
Public spaces such as parks can be assets or liabilities in a community. A park can be a symbol of a neighborhood's vitality and character, or an emblem of its disorganization and poverty of spirit. When it is an asset, it takes on the neighborhood's identity, becoming its star attraction, enhancing the quality of life and increasing property values for residents.
Too often we hear that our communities cannot afford to maintain current park properties and that funds are not available to acquire land for new parks and green spaces to meet the demands and needs or our growing population.
Communities across the country are recognizing that land conservation helps build healthy communities and healthy economies.
Consider the following points from Will Rogers, president, Trust for Public Land:
- A well-planned park system, greenways and other open spaces are important contributors to lively and livable cities and towns. In America's new service and technology economy, quality of life for our workforce has become a competitive force.
- The economic value of parks and green space has long been established and demonstrated by increased demand for and pricing of park side properties.
- Parks and park programs are a very cost-effective way of addressing delinquency and crime and providing a base for youth activities and for after-school alternatives.
- Acquiring riverbeds and flood plains for recreation and habitat is often more cost-effective than building levees and dams and paying flood insurance.
- Land based recreation makes a significant contribution to the nation's $500 billion tourism industry.
Many communities are learning that conserved open space contributes to the quality of life and community character and supports economic well-being. Too many community leaders feel they must choose between economic growth and open space protection. But no such choice is necessary, especially here in Indianapolis. Open space protection is good for the community's health, stability, beauty, and quality of place. It is also good for the bottom line. Evidence indicates that parks should be and are an investment that produces important economic benefits.