After calling for restraint by House GOP lawmakers considering stricter limits on community project funding (earmarks) in government funding bills, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) expressed relief today that new rules issued by House Republicans on Tuesday, February 28, do not put restrictions on park and recreation earmark projects, which can include funding for playgrounds, community and recreation centers, and development projects that enhance local communities for outdoor public use and spur economic growth.
Investments in these projects provide opportunities for outdoor activity, alleviate mental stress and offer numerous environmental benefits. Parks and recreation ultimately provide savings to taxpayers by lowering infrastructure, healthcare, safety and social service costs. When combined with their ability to deliver healthier and happier communities, the powerful impact parks and recreation have on economic activity highlights the fact that park and recreation agency offerings are not just a “nice-to-have” government service — they are critical infrastructure that pay meaningful dividends.
Kristine Stratton, president and CEO of NRPA, made the following statement:
“We were very concerned to hear that the GOP majority was considering restricting community project funding for local park and recreation agencies. Allocating funds to roads and bridges, while restricting investments in the essential infrastructure of local parks and community centers, would be a mistake. This decision is a victory for NRPA’s members and advocates who spoke out against these potential changes. It shows the power of our collective action as a movement.”
Despite the profound and widespread benefits that park and recreation departments offer, they are chronically and shockingly underfunded, with many systems having significant capital improvement project backlogs. During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, parks became vital open spaces for communities, as people looked for safe places to physically distance. The first public service that was re-opened to community members was park systems, and parks provided frontline emergency services throughout the pandemic. And even though pandemic precautions have eased, we continue to see increased usage and participation in our parks, trails and public spaces.
To learn more about NRPA, visit nrpa.org.
About the National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. With more than 60,000 members, NRPA advances this mission by investing in and championing the work of park and recreation professionals and advocates — the catalysts for positive change in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being. For more information, visit nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit parksandrecreation.org.