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Investing in Park Systems Good for Urban Economics

Anne Schwartz of the Gotham Gazette takes a good look at the economic value of parks. She covers some of the recent research showing the value of parks, including a good chunk devoted to TPL’s recent report Measuring the Economic Value of City Parks, which looks at seven factors that provide a benefit measurable in dollars. But she also raised an excellent point about how cities can actually get something back from their parks — by investing in them:

To capture the economic benefits of parks, however, a city must invest in their upkeep. Parks help the economy when they are well maintained and well used. They can have a negative effect when they are neglected, attracting vandalism, drug-dealing and other crime. During the New York City fiscal crisis of the 1970s and ’80s, dirty, worn and dangerous parks became a potent symbol of the city’s decline.

The parks system, compared to other city services, takes a relatively small amount of money to maintain. Although the parks department operating budget has increased since the lows of the early 1990s, the number of park properties has increased by 20 percent, and the department still runs on a budget that park advocates say is not adequate to keep the entire system in good repair.

It isn’t only the Central Parks of the world that have economic value. It is also the neighborhood parks, the greenways, playgrounds and natural areas that make up an entire park system that positively contribute to a city’s overall bottom line.  Shwarz’s column is worth a full read.

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2 Responses

  1. Good column by Anne Schwartz. Thanks for posting.

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