Report Estimates Economic Value of Philadelphia's Park System

A report announced by Mayor Michael Nutter estimates that Philadelphia's park system has a combined economic value of $1.9 billion in services, income and taxes to the city.

A report by a national expert on urban parks quantifies the economic value of Philadelphia's park system in terms of pollution control, property values, health, tourism and community cohesion. It also puts a price on all the services the parks provide that residents would otherwise pay for. The study, by the Center for City Park Excellence of the Trust for Public Land, was the kind of exercise Mayor Michael Nutter embraces. Nutter is looking for more public-private partnerships to invest in both parks and recreation. The $1.9 billion value "gets you into more of a business kind of conversation," Nutter said. "This document backs up what many of us have talked about for a long period of time, but then puts it in black and white," Nutter added.

Peter Harnik, director of the Center for City Park Excellence, said the document also provides a baseline that can be revisited in future years to see if investment in the parks reaps dividends. Harnik divided the benefits into these four categories: Citizen cost savings (free recreation and services, increased health): $1.1 billion; Increased citizen wealth (property values, tourist business): $729.1 million; Tax revenue (from tourism and increased property values): $23.3 million. Government cost savings (stormwater management, air pollution control, time and money donated by volunteers): $16.1 million. "We think this is a huge, major enterprise," Harnik said. "We hope that these numbers and similar numbers that we generate for other cities around the country will help continue to revive, build and strengthen the city parks movement throughout the whole country."

Full Story: Report: Parks net big returns

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