By Michelle Werts

Baseball in the Park
Playing baseball in the park. Credit: Thomas Rumley

I’m one of those people who remember very little of their childhoods. I have vague impressions of events and activities, but very little that is concrete. Among those “little” things, though, of which I have a crystal-clear memory are my childhood parks and playgrounds.

I can picture the grove of trees where my friends and I hid away, the field where we played Red Rover, the monkey bars I conquered, the drinking fountain shaded by a forested path. If those places didn’t exist, I may not have had my front two teeth knocked, but my childhood also would not have been the same.

I’m guessing that many of you have similar memories of special parks and playgrounds. Imagine how you would feel if that place had never existed. What if you lived in a blighted urban area with no park or if your city or town ran out of money to keep your park clean and safe? It’s a depressing thought that is also a reality for so many. There is a solution, though, if Congress is willing to act, so send them a letter asking them to support the Community Parks Revitalization Act.

Autumn in the Park
Autumn in the park. Credit: Pat Pilon

The Community Parks Revitalization Act was introduced this summer by Representative Sires (D-NJ) and is aimed at promoting urban forestry and recreation. This act would authorize the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue grants to local governments to improve parks and other recreation areas. These grants would also specifically target building recreation programs and places for at-risk youth and military members and their families.

But beyond the recreation that these projects would provide, there is a financial upside as well. Our friends at the National Recreation and Park Association pulled together some interesting facts about the benefits parks provide to communities. Here are some highlights:

  • Quality of parks and recreation resources is a key criteria for listing the best cities for businesses, jobs and places to live.
  • Outdoor recreation supports 6.1 million direct jobs and generates $80 billion in tax revenue each year (Outdoor Industry Association).
  • Parks and greenspaces increase property values.

Basically, urban parks are a winning proposition for so many reasons, which is why we need the Community Parks Revitalization Act to get out of committee and into a floor vote. Help us improve urban greenspaces throughout the country by telling the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation to vote on the Community Parks Revitalization Act to get it moved to the full House Committee on Natural Resources, which will get it one step closer to full House vote.