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New Report Examines Viability of Future Funding for Urban Parks and Recreation



Outcome from Roundtable of Experts Identifies Solutions, Need for More Research

ASHBURN, Va., Feb. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the Urban Institute announce the availability of a new report, "Financing the Future: The Critical Role of Parks in Urban and Metropolitan Infrastructure."  The report, written by noted author and urban planner William Fulton, analyzes discussion from a recent roundtable of national experts including park directors, mayors, and urban planners who examined the role and impact of parks and recreation in America's cities, counties and urban metropolitan areas as these traditional public services continue to face financial constraints and an ever-changing social landscape of contemporary America.

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With eight in 10 Americans making their home in metropolitan areas, urban parks have become a critical part of urban green infrastructure.  They provide many benefits otherwise difficult to come by such as restorative green space, storm water management, alternative transportation corridors, and more.  Urban dwellers depend on parks and recreation programs to enhance quality of life and improve public health and safety, yet the viability of these services and lands faces a serious threat. 

"We must find ways to ensure that all people – now and in the future – can enjoy the benefits that urban parks and recreation provide," says Barbara Tulipane, president and CEO of NRPA.  "With partners and experts, we set out to identify the real crux of the financial challenges they face, possible solutions and themes that deserve more research.  This report is a great start and we look forward to following up on the results of the roundtable."  

"Residents of American cities depend on their parks and playgrounds for recreation, socializing, and exercise. Parks also contribute to environmental quality and even reduce risks from natural hazards. But like roads, bridges, schools, and other infrastructure, parks suffer from underinvestment. Local officials and the public need better research to identify the benefits and costs of robust park systems and of different ways to finance them," says Rolf Pendall, Director of the Urban Institute's Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center.

The report is organized in three main sections: Challenges Facing Public Parks, Possible Solutions, and Research Questions.  Eight questions are raised in the report that touch on such topics as providing social equity in provision of urban park services, the costs of providing urban parks, and viability of funding solutions such as partnerships and the role and appropriateness of corporate donations.  

As cities, urban counties, and metropolitan areas look toward sustainable development and improving the quality of life in all communities, future research and discussion is needed to ensure funding for parks and recreation services is maintained  despite an environment where fiscal constraint is likely to be long-lasting.   

The full report and recording of the roundtable event can be accessed on the NRPA website at

About the Author
William Fulton, AICP, is Smart Growth America's Vice President for Policy and Programs. A former Mayor for Ventura, CA, Bill has served a long career as an urban planner, author, professor, and politician in California. Bill is also a Principal in the California-based planning firm, The Planning Center DC&E and a Senior Scholar at the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California.

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people.  Through its network of 20,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy lifestyles, recreation initiatives, and conservation of natural and cultural resources.  For more information, visit  For digital access to NRPA's flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

The Urban Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research and educational organization that examines the social, economic and governance challenges facing the nation.  It provides information, analyses and perspectives to public and private decisionmakers to help them address these problems and strives to deepen citizens' understanding of the issues and tradeoffs that policymakers face.  For more information, go to


SOURCE National Recreation and Park Association

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