ASLA supports legislation that will assist with the rehabilitation and construction of urban parks and recreational facilities across the country.
Background & Analysis
On June 18, 2013 Rep. Albio Sires (NJ) introduced the H.R 2424 the Community Parks Revitalization Act, bi-partisan legislation that would assist communities in developing and maintaining community parks in localities across the country. Specifically, these bills would provide grants for communities to rehabilitate existing and develop new community parks and recreational infrastructure. Grants could also be used to maintain parks to keep them vibrant for many years to come. States and localities would be required to provide matching funds.
Under the legislation, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would: give priority to projects that connect children and other community members to the outdoors for physical activity; connect to public transportation; and contain safe biking and walking trails or routes. Notably, eligible projects should also use environmentally beneficial features such as “sustainable landscape features,” including tree canopy coverage, improved stormwater management practices, and increased green infrastructure, which are all techniques that landscape architects excel at employing. The measure also encourages and provides grants for community involvement and planning opportunities.
Additionally the bill now includes an innovative financing
mechanism that would establish a program for secured loans and loan guarantees
for the development of parks and recreation infrastructure. Notably, this
program, modeled after the popular Transportation Infrastructure Innovative
Financing Act (TIFIA), would allow either large scale projects such as trail
systems, or multiple communities to bundle multiple projects together allowing
eligible entities to take advantage of low cost financing.
Establishing and maintaining urban parks can help revitalize communities by increasing economic development opportunities, improving public health, increasing daily physical activity, reconnecting children with nature, and reducing crime by providing safe, healthy alternatives for at-risk youth.
As an active member of the Urban Parks Coalition, ASLA is working closely with Congressman Albio Sires to pass this important bi-partisan legislation that promotes the role of urban parks in creating and sustaining economically sound, healthy, livable communities.
Rep. Albio Sires (NJ) and co-sponsors
The Community Parks Revitalization Act was introduced on June 18, 2013 and was referred to the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Education and the Workforce.
S. 3583, the Community Parks Revitalization Act, was introduced on September 20, 2012 by Senator Kay Hagan (NC) and H.R.709, the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act was introduced by Congressman Albio Sires (NJ) on February 15, 2011. This legislation was largely modeled on the Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) program. UPARR was established to provide assistance to states and local communities to rehabilitate existing urban parks. Though very successful, UPARR ended in 2002 when the final grants were released. S. 3583, the Community Park Revitalization Act, and H.R. 709, the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act would build upon the success of UPARR by improving the program to allow more communities to benefit and allow the development of new parks and outdoor recreational facilities.
Related ASLA Policies
• State, Regional, and Local Parks
• Livable Communities