What if we could fight childhood obesity, reduce crime, create jobs, and revitalize communities all at the same time? Congress introduced a new bill to do all those and more in the very places we live and work every day. Called the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act (HR 709), the legislation would provide grants to help communities build or revitalize more than 2,300 parks and recreation centers every year.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics both support the use of the built environment to combat obesity, yet no current legislation exists solely to create these public spaces. If we want active, healthy people we need to provide safe and accessible places for children and adults.
But Congress won’t act without your help. Contact your representatives now.
Why are parks important?
Urban parks provide significant economic, social, and environmental benefits to everyone in the community. Parks are not just pretty places, but critical to the fabric of our daily lives:
Urban parks provide serious bang for your buck, which more than offsets the initial investment. They raise property values, attract businesses, and spur critical economic activity for the community
The Lurie Garden, Millennium Park, Chicago
Photo: Piet Oudolf
Residents and businesses rate parks as one of the most important factors in their decision to reside in a given area.
Parks provide areas to exercise and reduce crime and juvenile delinquency.
Parks offer gathering places for families, friends, and people of all ages and economic status.
What’s in the legislation?
Requiring a local government match, the bill would provide $445 million annually to projects that connect children to the outdoors, increase physical activity, link to public transportation, and contain safe biking and walking routes.
The legislation encourages environmentally friendly elements to reduce utility and maintenance costs, lower the urban heat island effect, and reduce stormwater runoff.
The bill could fund more than 2,300 projects every year.
Learn more about the issue:
Video of Eddie George at Congressional Urban Caucus discussing urban parks
American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement
Centers for Disease Control Designing and Building Healthy Places
Livable Communities Resource Guide
Philadelphia Park Value Report (Trust for Public Land)
Urban Parks Coalition
Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act (ASLA Issue Brief)
Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act (Full Text of Legislation)
2300 by May 23 Campaign Surpasses Goal! (ASLA's news release)
Can Urban Parks Be Used to Fight Obesity? (Infrastructurist)
Congressional Urban Caucus Chair Says We Must Invest in and Treasure the Nation's Parks (PR Newswire) (Rep. Fattah's news release)
Consensus (!) in the U.S. Government: "Urban Parks Can't Be Separated from Broader Urban Revitalization Efforts." (ArchNewsNow)
Eddie George, ASLA, Discusses the Value of Urban Parks (MSNBC)
Former NFL Star Eddie George, ASLA, Briefs Congress on Creating Healthy Communities (also, read George's prepared remarks) (ASLA's news release)
Heard on the Hill: Congressional Comedy/Comity, Take Two (Roll Call)
Putting the Green Back into Atlanta's Parks and Green Space (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Urban Parks Matter, City Fix Picks for April 23 (The City Fix)
The Value of Urban Parks (The Dirt)
"Parks Pay Off" James Corner, ASLA, Op-Ed in Forbes Magazine