Cities Need Funding for Urban Parks; Federal Program Essential

A federal funding program for city parks means green space for communities but also brings many social and economic benefits.
October 16, 2018, 11am PDT | Camille Fink
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Tony Webster

Catherine Nagel writes about a federal matching grant program called the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP). The program was started to help channel more funds to urban park projects, and $50 million has gone to cities since 2014. "While relatively small, the ORLP is often just the shot in the arm needed to get important projects off the ground or to close funding gaps that help nudge these park projects over the finish line," says Nagel.

The program is funding projects in cities across the country and in underserved communities that need park space. In Portland, Oregon, a new park has helped the community beyond just providing much-needed green space:

As the founders of [the nonprofit organization] Verde describe it, Thomas Cully Park helped to build environmental, social and economic wealth by involving community members not only in the planning of the park but also by hiring local tradespeople and other workers to build it. Ambitious contracting and diversity targets helped to ensure that low-income residents and people of color benefited directly.

Nagel hopes to see the ORLP expanded in the future. But for now, she says it is imperative that Congress reauthorize the Land and Conservation Fund and support the Outdoors for All Act. “The ORLP is a smart investment of federal funds, returning far more than it costs and achieving important environmental, social and economic objectives that improve the quality of life for all urban residents,” says Nagel.

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Published on Monday, October 15, 2018 in Governing
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