Posted on April 24, 2014 by Angelina Horn
By Matthew Schulman
In a single weekend, how many people could you rally to restore your city’s parks?
How about 1,400?
That’s what the Portland Parks Foundation recently accomplished through Parke Diem, the largest citywide parks volunteer effort in Portland history. Carpe Diem, a Latin phrase coined in 23 B.C, literally translates to “seize the day.” “Parke Diem” plays homage to this historic aphorism by challenging Portland residents to go outdoors—in rain or shine—and show support for the city’s many beloved parks. For two days in October 2013, Portlanders of all ages logged an amazing 4,600 hours cleaning, repairing, and planting vegetation in 18 developed parks, 14 natural areas, 4 arboretums, 33 community gardens, and a recreation center.
Nick Hardigg, Executive Director of the Portland Parks Foundation, explained how “there were a lot of networks that were doing a lot of good stuff” for Portland’s parks. In an effort to merge these networks, the City, Forest Park Conservancy, No Ivy League and other park advocacy organizations worked to create a fun event dedicated to volunteerism. The Portland Parks Foundation spent approximately $20,000 worth of staff time to organize Parke Diem, with free summer concerts, outdoor film festivals and raffles providing many opportunities to garner support. “Not a single person said that they wouldn’t find it fun,” he explained. “There was a lot of energy—people wanted to come together and celebrate!” Continue reading
Filed under: partnerships, programming | Tagged: Parke Diem, Parklandia, portland, Portland Parks Foundation, volunteers | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 11, 2014 by Kathy Blaha
Lately I’ve been reading about the growing number of for-profit companies offering their service to local governments to manage certain agency functions. Since the 1980s, when outsourcing became popular, local governments hoping to create cost efficiencies have turned over many of their service needs to private contractors – waste collection, landscaping, IT, and public transit.
But increasingly, smaller cities are contracting to have private companies run whole departments or whole cities. Elected officials and even some voters see this as a cost cutting move and an efficient use of tax dollars. Companies offering this service can proudly show their success with improved management, lower costs, and better value for the tax dollar. There is, of course, a lot of debate about all this.
Filed under: partnerships | Tagged: Kathy Blaha, P3s, public-private partnerships | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 26, 2014 by Angelina Horn
Each month, City Parks Alliance names one “Frontline Park” as a standout example of urban park excellence, innovation and stewardship from across the country. The program identifies city parks that find innovative ways to meet the unique challenges faced as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures and urban neighborhood decay. In recognition of its unique approach to partnerships and green infrastructure, Joe Taylor Park in Grand Rapids, MI has been named a Frontline Park.
“The completion of Joe Taylor Park was a major milestone for our community and set the stage for us to have critical conversations about sustainable park design, equity and access, maintenance and funding, and partnership development,” said Steve Faber, Executive Director of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.
“We selected Joe Taylor Park as a Frontline Park because it exemplifies the power of urban parks to build community and make our cities sustainable and vibrant,” said Catherine Nagel, Executive Director, City Parks Alliance. “We hope that by shining the spotlight on Joe Taylor Park, we can raise awareness about the ways investment in our nation’s urban parks pays off.”
Filed under: crime & safety, facilities, green infrastructure, maintenance/management, partnerships, renewal | Tagged: Frontline Parks, Grand Rapids, stormwater | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 6, 2014 by Kathy Blaha
This post continues from last week on the work of New Yorkers for Parks and public private partnerships, gathered through an interview with outgoing Executive Director Holly Leicht.
In 2012, NY4P undertook a detailed analysis of the growing number of private park conservancies in New York City, closely scrutinizing the 25 legal agreements between conservancies and the Parks Department. The result was a set of recommendations to encourage greater consistency, transparency and accountability in public private partnerships. The report found that partnerships are indeed augmenting the public budget, but that the city needs to do a better job of tracking funds and should require more consistent financial reporting that is made public on the Parks Department’s website.
“There’s no question that these organizations are value added to the parks they’re working in,” Holly told me, “but we also found that there was value added to the whole system since other parks benefit from freed-up public money, but the Parks Department does not quantify this dollar value. It’s evident private money is making Central Park work, for example, but we have no real data to prove the benefit at the neighborhood park level.” Continue reading
Filed under: funding, maintenance/management, partnerships | Tagged: Holly Leicht, Kathy Blaha, new york, New Yorkers for Parks, NY4P, P3s, public-private partnerships | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 27, 2014 by Angelina Horn
Each month, City Parks Alliance recognizes a “Frontline Park” to promote and highlight inspiring examples of urban park excellence, innovation, and stewardship across the country. The program also seeks to highlight examples of the challenges facing our cities’ parks as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures, and urban neighborhood decay.
Like many industrial legacy cities across the United States, Birmingham is undergoing a transition. Formerly the “industrial capital of the South,” the city is moving away from steel production to a more knowledge-based economy, including banking and medical research. Fifteen minutes from downtown, the iron ore-rich mountain that so many companies depended on for raw materials has been undergoing a transition of its own, thanks to a dedicated group of citizens and community leaders in Birmingham who came together to create Red Mountain Park.
Filed under: funding, health, maintenance/management, partnerships, planning, programming, renewal | Tagged: Alabama, Birmingham, concessions, greenways, legacy cities, public-private partnerships, Red Mountain | Leave a comment »