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

Feature Story

October 2020

City Parks Alliance Launches Park Funding Hub

City Parks Alliance recently launched the Equitable Park Funding Hub, a tool park professionals can use to explore federal, state and local funding strategies for city parks and public spaces. The hub provides an overview of six funding areas: brownfields; climate adaptation, resilience and recovery; community development; conservation funding; and local funding approaches. Support for the work was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The coronavirus pandemic has driven a renewed understanding of the important role parks and greenspace play in physical and mental health, and how parks will continue to play an essential role in the recovery of the country and its cities. As local municipalities reduce their budgets, cities need to explore new funding strategies and partnerships to ensure parks and public spaces are developed, programed and maintained to fulfill their essential role as social infrastructure.

“City parks, trails and access to nature support public health, workforce development, local economies, the environment and community cohesion. Yet historic disinvestment has left many low-income communities and communities of color without access to quality parks and recreation opportunities,” said Catherine Nagel, executive director of City Parks Alliance. “The coronavirus pandemic shines a spotlight on park inequities and will leave many cities in dire financial shape. Cities need to include parks and recreation in their recovery plans with a broader equity focus. Now more than ever, high-quality parks and public spaces in disadvantaged communities require creative partnerships to unlock new and existing funding sources.”

Beyond links to state and federal funding programs, each funding area in the Hub includes information on eligibility, allowed uses, match requirements and average grant amounts. Each area also includes links to additional resources, including technical assistance providers, case studies, webinars and partnership examples from cities across the country. Users can sort by funding type, the potential use of funds and the average size of the grant to help prioritize the best funding strategies for their needs. Park professionals are invited to strengthen the resource by contributing new funding strategies, and sharing their experiences applying for and implementing programs with these funding sources.

Public funding for parks and green infrastructure is often limited, especially in the low-income communities that need them most, depriving residents of access to quality parks, recreation opportunities and other positive environmental conditions. The low-income communities that do receive park and greenspace investments are frequently forced to balance these benefits against the threat of displacement for long-time residents and business. Community involvement and transparent decision-making are essential, and programs designed to support long-time residents and local businesses can help reduce green gentrification.

“City parks are at the center of resilient and equitable cities,” Nagel said. “Our research shows some of the ways cities can leverage the equity, health and environmental benefits of parks to identify new sources of funding, new cost-sharing partnerships and new support for parks and recreation.”

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