Economic Roundtable


Financing the Future: The Critical Role of Parks in Urban and Metropolitan Infrastructure 

NRPA Financing the Futureand the Urban Institute (UI), in cooperation with the National League of Cities (NLC) and the National Association of Counties (NACO), hosted a Roundtable in the fall of 2011 for an invited group of decision makers from a wide variety of disciplines including health, real estate, tax policy, conservation, urban planning, academia, and others disciplines to examine the critical role that public parks and recreation play in urban and metropolitan infrastructure.  One goal of this roundtable was to examine the future viability and sustainability of public funding for parks and recreation.
The robust discussions of the roundtable focused on the extraordinary fiscal pressures facing cities, counties, and metropolitan areas and the challenges created by demographic, economic, environmental, and social changes. 

Read the complete Financing the Future report written by noted author and urban planner, William Fulton.

Watch Video of Session 1:

Video streaming by Ustream

Opening remarks:

Tony Williams, former Mayor of DC

Session I: Making the Case for Parks During Fiscal Crisis–Mayor’s discussion


  • Rick Baker, St. Petersburg, FL
  • Hon. William Fulton, Ventura, CA
  • John Norquist, Milwaukee, WI
  • Tony Williams, Washington, DC

Desired Outcomes: Mayors and former mayors describe choices they made to support spending priorities and then challenge attendees to sharpen their arguments. Participants identify best approaches for gaining public support and developing new strategies for advancing urban and metropolitan parks. Participants identify needed research and strategies to enlist support of skeptical elected officials. Participants identify constituencies that support (researchable) rationales for spending on parks given other priorities.

These additional sessions followed: 

Session II: Making Market-based Approaches for Parks and Recreation Work: Opportunities and Pitfalls

Session III: Tackling Fiscal Challenges: Case Studies of Cities and Counties

Session IV: Facilitated discussion involving all participants—identification of key research questions and setting of priorities