Study after study has drawn direct links to the economic value that parks add to communities. Access to green space for homeowners and renters alike is important for so many reasons.
Kids who have access to nature do better in school. Kids who do better in school do better at home, improving quality of life for the entire family.
Employers need employees who are well-educated and flexible to meet changing work environments. Good students go on to have increased earning power, making it more possible to afford housing.
The innovative and creative business leaders of tomorrow are our children of today.
Healthy bodies and minds mean lower healthcare costs and less time missed from work.
It is clear that access to nature is extremely important. We also need to make certain that we draw the connection between availability of nature for renters as well as homeowners. Statistically, people of color are less likely to own a home than their white neighbors. Therefore, as we develop our community, we need to make sure we are adding enough green space for everyone. Not all of us have a backyard. Lack of public green space is an equity issue. If more renters are people of color and there is not adequate green space, it disproportionately negatively affects people of color.
Green space is community space. It provides a place for kids to work as a team, for moments of solitude and mental refreshment staring at the clouds or painting a landscape, the opportunity for a pick-up game of basketball or kicking a soccer ball around. Who doesn’t love to have lunch in a park on a beautiful spring day?
Parks clean our air and filter our water. They provide habitat for pollinators in desperate need of that ecosystem. They cool the urban heat island.
Parks are a foundational piece of building a happy, healthy, vibrant, resilient, and economically strong community. Its not either parks or economic development. Its economic development AND parks.
For a timely reference to discussion around park development and economic development, here is a link to a Downtown Live forum with Mayor Melvin Carter, City Councilmember Rebecca Noecker, and Pedro Park advocate, Kati Berg, that took place on February 19, 2018.