Public Support for Park and Recreation Infrastructure Investments Is Strong, Survey Finds

(June 28, 2021)

Community centers, parks, recreation centers and senior centers are essential community infrastructure

The indoor and outdoor spaces managed by park and recreation professionals nationwide are essential components of a community’s improved infrastructure plan, according to a newly released National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) poll. Nearly all (92 percent) of U.S. adults say they want their local government to invest in community infrastructure, including:

  • Parks
  • Community Centers
  • Recreation Centers
  • Senior Centers  

Among those who say this type of community infrastructure is important, 7 in 10 say it’s extremely or very important. This is a sentiment shared by people of all ages, including Gen Z, millennials, Gen X and baby boomers.

“Parks and recreation is essential infrastructure. Local communities must include these important assets as they plan infrastructure investments,” said Kevin Roth, NRPA vice president of research, evaluation and technology. “These beloved spaces are the heart of every community, and additional park and recreation infrastructure is an investment in the people who live, work and play in these areas. Moreover, local park and recreation agencies need the support of the local, state and federal government to fund a backlog of more than $60 billion in deferred maintenance.”

A report issued by NRPA — in partnership with the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University — demonstrates the vast economic impact of local parks nationwide. Operations and capital spending for local parks generates more than $166 billion in economic activity and supports more than 1.1 million jobs. This is a conservative estimate that doesn’t capture parks’ other economic benefits:

  • Higher real estate values
  • Health and wellness benefits
  • Conservation/Resiliency benefits
  • Tourism
  • Economic development

The report also includes a state-level analysis that highlights the economic impact of local parks in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. To access the report, click here.

To view the interactive charts with the survey results, click here.

To view the full-size infographic, click here.

To learn more about NRPA, visit   


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 For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit