Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

October 2019

NRPA Awards Grants to 10 Communities to Expand Park Access

By Chandler Garland

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) recently announced that 10 communities will receive grant funding in support of city planning and policy efforts to increase access to high-quality, close-to-home parks and public green space.

Totaling $400,000, the grant funding was given in coordination with 10 Minute Walk—a campaign dedicated to improving access to parks and green spaces and positively transforming communities. The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) are working together to ensure everyone has safe access to a quality park within a 10-minute walk of home.

"Parks are essential to healthy and thriving communities, but we need long-term solutions to ensure parks are well-maintained, accessible and located where they are needed most," said Kristine Stratton, NRPA president and CEO. "This funding allows cities to create systemic change that will continue to benefit their communities, not just today, but far into the future."

In addition to funds that support equitable park access, these communities receive ongoing technical assistance, professional development and access to networks of like-minded park and recreation professionals throughout the country.

The communities receiving grant funding are:

  • Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Crawford County, Ark.
  • Gwinnett County, Ga.
  • Klamath Falls, Ore.
  • Miami, Fla.
  • Norwalk, Calif.
  • Perris, Calif.
  • Starkville, Miss.
  • Winchester, Ky.

These communities join 22 other municipalities that have previously received grant funding through this program and have committed to implement plans, increase funding and create policies that increase access to quality parks for everyone—particularly for vulnerable and underserved communities. This group of grantees will kick off their planning at a training in Tacoma, Wash.

Raleigh, N.C., a grantee-city that received funding earlier in 2019, is creating a community engagement plan that addresses access, equity, collaboration and continuous reinvestment. Raleigh is a fast-growing city with a pressing need to retrofit an auto-oriented built environment. Through the partnership with NRPA, Raleigh has been able to develop a community-driven park access assessment tool that ensures gaps in park quality are improved, particularly for the communities in Raleigh that are at high risk of poor health, economic and environmental outcomes.

NRPA works to improve park access by providing opportunities for funding, networking, capacity building and professional development to local park and recreation agencies. Just and fair access to parks is linked to increased physical activity, improved mental health, stronger community bonds and enhanced sustainability. In the past five years, NRPA has provided more than $14.5 million to directly improve park spaces, and has developed best practices, learning opportunities and more for park professionals.

As part of this work, NRPA has created the Community Engagement Resource Guide, which provides park and recreation professionals with a roadmap to implement equitable and inclusive community engagement strategies around the planning, design, construction, maintenance and activation of park projects and plans.

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