In a world of so many stresses, park and recreation departments have never been more important, simply by providing citizens and visitors alike with opportunities to take a break and rejuvenate. This is particularly true during the summer months. The National Recreation and Park Association conducted a poll and released its results early in July.
It found a vast majority of Americans — 91 percent — would be participating in an outdoor recreation activity hosted by their local park and recreation agency this past summer. The top three outdoor recreation activities, according to the poll, were gathering with family and friends at the park for games, picnics or barbecues, 58%; going to the pool, 48%; and walking or hiking along a local trail, 45%.
This is inline with the organization’s 2018 report, “Economic impact of local parks,” which noted seven in 10 Americans regularly visit their local park and recreation facilities. It adds, “An even larger number — nine in 10 — agrees that their communities benefit from everything their local park and recreation agencies offer. This level of public support is not surprising: parks and recreation promotes healthy, prosperous and connected communities in nearly every city, town and county throughout the United States.”
Community members are exceedingly willing to help their parks either through the donation of money or time. Within my local community of Syracuse, Ind., I have been proud to see how individuals have supported various parks projects and the further development of the Syracuse-Wawasee Trail, including the much anticipated Conklin Bay boardwalk project, which will connect outdoor enthusiasts even more with the beautiful Lake Wawasee — no boat required. It’s a project I’m personally looking forward to seeing completed.
Providing opportunities for residents to back their local parks department is key. Often times people want to help but have no idea where to place their energy or funds. Crowdfunding is proving useful for this purpose, and many parks and recreation departments are tapping into it, with residents responding in a lot of cases. Writer Julie Young writes about this trend that has been growing since 2014 while also highlighting two communities’ successful campaigns, which blasted past initial goals.
In addition to this article, The Municipal will be featuring the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale, Ariz. In 2019, it won the Engaging Local Government Leaders Knope Award for the Best Park or Open Space and continues to receive 1 million visitors on a yearly basis. Bike parks, offering more of a challenge for mountain bike enthusiasts, will also be covered.
Finally, on the environmental services side, we’ll be addressing brownfield remediation — including the placement of solar installations in these spaces — and spotlighting St. Tammany Parish, La.’s, forward-thinking decentralized management program, which is having a positive impact on water quality in the Bayou Liberty Watershed.
For those of us in the North, let’s enjoy what fair weather days remain, potentially in our own local parks. For readers in the South, I can only say one word: lucky! Until next time, happy October, everyone! May it have for treats than tricks.