Urban Parks Grew in 2011, as Employment Declines

The 100 largest U.S. cities added 120 new parks last year, but overall spending remained largely flat. Approximately half the cities experienced cuts in their parks budgets, forcing departments to defer maintenance costs even as usership grows.
December 8, 2011, 1pm PST | Tim Halbur
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A new report from The Trust for Public Land shows that cities added parks in 2011, but managed to do so without increasing budgets. How'd that work?

"Despite aggregate increases in acreage and facilities across the U.S., many city park departments are struggling with funding shortages. Operational spending shrank by 0.6 percent overall, with close to half of cities experiencing cuts. Full-time employee counts fell by 3.9 percent, a loss of 935 jobs nationwide."

"Budgets grew slightly overall, but not enough to sustain jobs or overcome increasing – and often deferred – maintenance costs. Peter Harnik, director of the Center for City Park Excellence, noted that 'cities are still saddled with a reported $5.8 billion in deferred repairs and improvements.' That figure is only slightly smaller than the total parks expenditure of the 92 cities that provided financial data for FY 2009, which equaled $6.1 billion."

Thanks to Ryan Donahue

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Published on Thursday, December 8, 2011 in City Parks Blog
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