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Research Review: Parks Have Economic Value

Active Living Research is out with a synthesis of research showing that communities economically benefit from parks and walkability. The report, entitled The Economic Benefits of Open Space, Recreation Facilities and Walkable Community Design was led by Lilly Shoup of the University of Maryland and Reid Ewing of the University of Utah.

For any park advocate or agency seeking to show politicians and policy makers evidence of the value of parks, this is a useful document that holds a plethora of findings from around the country. Here are the major conclusions:

  • Open spaces such as parks and recreation areas can have a positive effect on nearby residential property values, and can lead to proportionately higher property tax revenues for local governments;
  • The economic impact parks and recreational areas have on home prices depends on how far the home is from the open space, the size of the open space and the characteristics of the surrounding neighborhood;
  • Open space in urban areas will increase the level of economic benefits to surrounding property owners more than open space in rural areas;
  • Open space, recreation areas and compact developments may provide fiscal benefits to municipal governments; and
  • Compact, walkable developments can provide economic benefits to real estate developers through higher home sale prices, enhanced marketability and faster sales or leases than conventional development.

This last point also might be used to persuade real estate developers to include parks in their projects. There really should be no surprise in these findings. People want to live in pleasant places — where they can throw a ball around, walk the dog, bring their kids to the playground or walk through on their way to work. And they want these places to be close to home. It just so happens that having quality public spaces nearby also relates to people being more physically active and able to live in a places that are more energy efficient.

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