Why City Parks Matter


As cities become more densely populated and concern about the impact of climate change increases, planners, elected officials, and community advocates are taking a fresh look at parks and their potential to help address critical urban infrastructure and public health issues. Parks are now recognized as powerful tools for urban communities and local economies.

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Benefits of Urban Parks

City parks provide access to recreational opportunities, increase property values, spur local economies, combat crime, and protect cities from environmental impact.

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City parks encourage active lifestyles and reduce health costs.

Physical activity can reduce or prevent many physical and mental health problems. Parks also reduce the costs of healthcare: maintaining a healthy weight saves $1,500 per person in healthcare costs per year.

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City parks strengthen local economies and create job opportunities.

Parks attract residents and businesses, increase revenue for cities, spur private investment, and increase job opportunities. In Denver, $1.2 million in federal park grants resulted in over $2.5 billion in local public and private investments.

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City parks make cities more resilient.

Cities are integrating parks with their infrastructure plans to manage stormwater and mitigate flooding. Cost-sharing across agencies can save money on park creation, maintenance and programming allowing cities to fully leverage the many benefits of parks to cities and residents.

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City parks increase community engagement and reduce crime.

Planning and programming that engages residents in the design and of their local parks fosters a sense of community and helps ensure that the parks reflect the needs of the community. Community involvement and greening of vacant urban land, for example, has been shown to decrease crime and generate additional support for nearby park projects.

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City parks help clean the air and improve public health.

Trees in urban parks remove up to 7,111,000 tons of toxins from the air annually at a value of $3.8 billion to cities. Green spaces also filter rain, reducing water pollution, protecting drinking water, and decreasing the rates of waterborne illness. Green spaces in cities also help cool our cities, reducing the heat-island effect.

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City parks are a tool for cities to achieve their equity goals.

Vibrant parks and green spaces are at the center of resilient and equitable cities, and increasingly, agencies and public officials are leveraging the many benefits of parks to meet their city-wide equity goals. Through community engagement and applying an equitable approach to park funding, park leaders, public, private, civic, and philanthropic partners are directing investments to communities in greatest need.