Community Parks Revitalization Act
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.