Category Archives: Parks

2013 Infrastructure Report Card

Source: American Society of Civil Engineers, March 2013

From the summary:
…Once every four years, America’s civil engineers provide a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s major infrastructure categories in ASCE’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (Report Card). Using a simple A to F school report card format, the Report Card provides a comprehensive assessment of current infrastructure conditions and needs, both assigning grades and making recommendations for how to raise the grades. An Advisory Council of ASCE members assigns the grades according to the following eight criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation. Since 1998, the grades have been near failing, averaging only Ds, due to delayed maintenance and underinvestment across most categories.

Now the 2013 Report Card grades are in, and America’s cumulative GPA for infrastructure rose slightly to a D+. The grades in 2013 ranged from a high of B- for solid waste to a low of D- for inland waterways and levees. Solid waste, drinking water, wastewater, roads, and bridges all saw incremental improvements, and rail jumped from a C- to a C+. No categories saw a decline in grade this year….

2013 Parks and Recreation National Database Report

Source: National Recreation and Park Association, 2013

Sections include:
– Responsibilities
What roles and duties define the parks and recreation field?
– Staffing and Volunteers
What categories of employees comprise the staffs of agencies of various sizes and types? What are the trends for full-time and part-time staffers? How many hours are contributed by volunteers?
– Budget
What are typical operating expenditures and capital budgets for various size agencies? What are the most common sources of revenue? What kinds of renovation needs and capital needs are agencies experiencing?
– Programming and Attendance
How are park and recreation agencies serving their communities through recreation, education, health, wellness, and social programs?
– Operations, Maintenance, and Benchmarking
Key data on facilities, expenditures, attendance, and breadth of scope. What are the relationships between maintenance costs/budget and an agency’s character, magnitude, service level, materials, and environment?
– GIS and Mapping
GIS data highlighting how mapping technology can be used by communities of all types to create inventories of their lands and facilities with NRPA’s standardized GIS data model.
– Community Value
New Eco-benefits Calculator shows environmental and economic value of parks and recreation to communities.

2012 City Park Facts

Source: Peter Harnik, Ryan Donahue, Linden Weiswerda, Trust for Public Land, 2012

From the summary:
Over the past decade, the city parks movement has gained tremendous power, and one reason is the dramatic increase in the amount of information available about almost every aspect of urban park and recreation systems.

Some cities have plenty of parkland that’s well distributed around town; others have enough land but an inequitable distribution; others are short of even a basic amount of park space for their citizens.

Through an annual survey, our Center for City Park Excellence maintains the nation’s most complete database of park facts for the 100 most populous U.S. cities, allowing for city by city comparisons. The 2012 City Park Facts contains a number of new reports:

Distance to a Park. What percentage of the population can get to a park within a 10-minute walk (half a mile)?
Park Acres per Daytime Population.
Spending on Parks as Adjusted by Cost of Living.
Park Acreage Outside the City Limit.

See also:
individual report tables

Analysis: Cities with More Walkers, Bike Commuters are Less Obese

Source: Mike Maciag, Governing, June 14, 2012

…A Governing review of census and CDC data finds communities where more residents walk or bike to work boast significantly healthier weights. The analysis of 2010 statistics for 126 metropolitan areas finds these communities are strongly correlated with higher numbers of residents who are neither obese nor overweight.

Historically, studies have linked trails, sidewalks and bike lanes with an increase in walking or cycling. As medical costs continue to rise and evidence mounts that such infrastructure also improves well-being, more officials might look to give health consideration greater standing in transportation planning….

Funding Public Parks Could Save Lives

Source: Lawrence J. Cohen and Anthony T. DeBenedet, Time, December 29, 2011

If people’s lives are at stake because of poorly funded parks, shouldn’t we do something about it?

This has been a bad year for state and local parks. If you’ve come across park gates that are chained shut or playgrounds that are rusting, as we have, then you know this firsthand. Budget crises have forced states to not only drastically cut park funding but consider unprecedented closures as well. … This neglect runs contrary to public opinion, which consistently supports parks, even in a time of shrinking budgets, because they are good for the economy, animal habitats, family bonding, community building and the growing problems of childhood obesity and nature deficit disorder — a term coined by Richard Louv, who argues that children are spending less time outdoors because of parental safety fears and the presence of TV and other electronic screens. … But recent research suggests that parks aren’t just good for our well-being, they may even be a matter of life and death. In a December 2005 Environmental Health Perspectives article, Amy Schulz and her colleagues suggested that parks might be a protective factor in cardiovascular disease risk; an absence of safe parks may be part of why poverty leads to poorer health outcomes.

Secrets of the Private Sector: How parks and recreation agencies can flex their marketing muscles

Source: Peter Harnik and Elissa Hoagland, Trust for Public Land, e-newsletter, April 30, 2012

If you ran a business that controlled hundreds of mil¬lions of dollars worth of prime real estate, scenic walking trails, elegant gardens, boating basins, ice rinks, outdoor performance venues, forests, and fields, you’d probably want people to know about it. But scores of institutions with this kind of resource wealth do almost nothing to promote what they’ve got. They are America’s big-city park and recreation departments–from Boston to Los Angeles to Honolulu. According to a survey by The Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence, almost half of the nation’s largest park departments do not spend any money on public outreach….
Reprinted from the August 2010 issue of Parks & Recreation magazine.

Cemeteries Alive: Graveyards are resurging as green spaces for the public

Source: Peter Harnik and Aric Merolli, Trust for Public Land, e-newsletter, April 30, 2012

Historically, it’s not a new idea. Before there were public parks, cemeteries–most famously in the United States Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which dates to 1831, and Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, which opened in 1838–were the primary manicured and sculpted green spaces within cities. As parks arose, the recreational use of graveyards fell off. But today, some cities have hundreds of acres of public and private cemetery grounds. Some already help mitigate the shortage of urban parkland (see “Selected Urban Cemeteries That Function Like Parks”). Others, with some modifications, could do the same.
Reprinted from the December 2010 issue of Landscape Architecture

From the Ground Up

Source: Tanya Kenevich, American Cemetery, April 2012
(subscription required)

Looking at some cemeteries, you might get the impression that grounds maintenance consists of throwing down some grass seed and praying that it grows. However, American Cemetery’s 2012 grounds maintenance survey results show how important proper maintenance is.