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Show Us the Money: Parks and the Stimulus Package

by Catherine Nagel, Executive Director of the City Parks Alliance, for a Special Message on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Are stimulus funds going to parks in your city? We want to find out.

The City Parks Alliance and its network would like to know how parks groups are uncovering funds in the stimulus package to put people to work and invest in our communities. We are asking City Parks Alliance members, followers of City Parks Blog and park advocates around the country to share examples of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act being put to work inside city parks. This might include funding in your community for urban forestry, CDBG funding for parks, brownfields-to-parks, trails, youth employment programs and other park-related projects coming from the stimulus funds.

Please post your comments below to share your experiences and to help us all figure out how to navigate this historic funding package.

4 Responses

  1. Cincinnati and Hamilton County did request some park money. The City of Cincinnati requested money for bank stabilization on the Ohio River that will allow for the continued development of the new crown jewel of the Cincinnati Park System – Central Riverfront Park.

    Hamilton County submitted a request for money that will be used to cap the existing Fort Washington Way highway that runs sub-surface in downtown Cincinnati. The caps will be used as open green space once they’re completed.

    The City of Cincinnati also requested money to continue to develop their Forest Carbon Sequestration program they have been doing over the past couple of years. This allows the city to plant thousands of new trees each year.

  2. Although the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) doesn’t target urban parks for investment there are a number of programs where parks look like they’ll fit nicely. Federal Highway Administration funds have supported greenways, boardwalks and park roads and paths and with $27 billion available nationwide, could pay fund some valuable projects. Distribution follows the existing Federal formulas, so check with your transportation agency to see what might be available. NOAA, which falls under Commerce for appropriation purposes, has just announced a competitive grant program for major ecosystems restoration projects ranging in size from $500,000 to $20 million. Applications are due on April 6th. Energy and Water contains $300 million for “State and Local Efficient Trucks and Buses”, while Interior has a similar amount allocated for diesel retrofits. The Community Development Block Grant program, administered by Housing and Urban Development, has a recreation component built into its core program and with another billion dollars available through ARRA, it could fill funding gaps or launch new programs. One of the areas we’re focusing on in New York is the “Prevention/Wellness” under the aegis of Health and Human Services. We’ve proposed a substantial expansion of our successful “Shape Up” program, a structured fitness program targeted to neighborhoods with high obesity and diabetes rates. We’ve partnered with our local Health Department, to help with fitness goals and outcome measurements and the public housing authority to reach communities where we don’t have facilities to offer our programs. We’ve also proposed outdoor fitness equipment for parks in neighborhoods that have the same health profiles as a way to make fitness accessible and affordable. New ARRA programs and grants are being announced regularly so keep in touch by visiting http://grants.gov and http://www.recovery.gov.

  3. For those interested:

    Conference Call:
    Using Transportation Recovery Dollars to Build Communities of Opportunity
    Friday, March 20th, 1-2 pm Eastern (10-11 am Pacific)

    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes nearly $50 billion to improve our nation’s bridges, transit systems, roads, rails, and ports. Please join PolicyLink and the Transportation Equity Network to hear about strategies and tactics to make sure those dollars expand opportunity and equity for millions of Americans.
    During the call, Radhika Fox of PolicyLink and Laura Barrett of the Transportation Equity Network will discuss how advocates and decision-makers can help build healthy communities, expand access to jobs for lower-income people, and foster greater accountability and transparency.

    Space is limited. Click below to RSVP and to receive call-in information. http://www.kintera.org/cms.asp?id=712405&campaign_id=116731&tr=y&enString=ffQCSxQrIjKMI3OELgLIJSNuFeKBIBTiNQRGO6MwG8LJIQMtFoE&auid=4628417

  4. Trail project funding, anything related to “transportation enhancements” here could have some connection to park agencies and projects seeking funding…..

    From the Smart Growth Network:
    Stimulus Funding for Biking and Walking

    America Walks, a national coalition of local advocacy groups dedicated to promoting walkable communities, reports on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in this analysis posted on the America Walks website.

    Despite all the bad news about the economy, the stimulus bill is set to provide a big boost to states for walking and bicycling infrastructure, so-called ”transportation enhancements.” ARRA provides $27 billion in surface transportation funding nationwide. Of that $27 billion, 3 percent is designated for the Transportation Enhancements program, amounting to $800 million. For comparison, the current federal funding bill, SAFETEA-LU, sets aside about 1.7 percent for the Enhancements program. Furthermore, bicycling and walking projects are still eligible for funding from the full $27 billion dollar kitty.

    The Transportation Enhancements program funds 12 categories of projects, but is largely bicycle and pedestrian-oriented, with nearly half of funds going to bike/ped infrastructure.

    According to America Walks, the really special news is that the ARRA does not include an obligation ceiling, so that the funding states receive can be fully spent. Further, without the wiggle room provided by the obligation ceiling, states will not have the option of shifting funds away from the Enhancements program and to more highway-oriented programs like the National Highway System or Interstate Maintenance programs.

    The bottom line is that each state will receive a significant amount of federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. And provisions in the ARRA stipulate that they must spend that funding quickly or risk losing it.

    Read more at the resource link below.

    Resource: http://www.americawalks.org/2009/02/stimulus-bill/

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