Congressional Urban Caucus Chair Says We Must Invest in and Treasure the Nation's Parks

May 03, 2010, 13:53 ET from Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah

WASHINGTON, May 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- America's national, state and local parks provide a place of serenity and relaxation to the thousands of visitors who gather there every year, yet investment in their preservation isn't seen as a high priority and that's something Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Chair of the Congressional Urban Caucus, wants to change.

With Fairmount Park, one of the nation's largest urban parks (9,200 acres) sitting in the heart of Philadelphia and Fattah's Congressional District, he says he understands the social and financial benefits of investment in the urban treasures.  

According to Fattah, the importance of creating and preserving our nation's urban parks cannot be underestimated: "Urban parks can't be separated from broader urban revitalization efforts. Open spaces provide a place where children and adults alike can play, exercise and relax and where businesses can invest in the economic and social development of the community."

Hoping to highlight the role of parks in urban areas, Fattah recently invited leaders from the Administration and various economic, academic and parks organizations to a briefing on the impact of urban parks.  

The attendees were addressed by a panel of experts including Susan Wachter, Professor of Financial Management, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania; Eddie George, ASLA, former NFL player and landscape architect; Joe Hughes, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Salin Geevarghese, Senior Advisor, Office of Sustainable Housing & Communities, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Talking about the benefits of parks, these experts agreed that investing in green spaces is not just about environmental sustainability.  Instead park investment needs to be seen as being part of a much larger narrative regarding the role of the federal government in combating the recession and disinvestment in urban cores.  

By spending money on park infrastructure projects, the government can put Americans back to work, while creating stronger and more dynamic urban neighborhoods.  Or as Professor Joe Hughes remarked, "parks play a role in market restoration, value creation, job creation, green space development, and neighborhood stabilization."

The briefing was hosted by members of the Congressional Urban Caucus' Urban Parks Taskforce (including representatives Fattah, Turner, and Sires) and sought to begin a dialogue between the Administration, Congress, city representatives, and advocates of green space about the value and role of parks in urban areas.

SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah