Alternative Options for Park Funding

Public spaces are by no means disappearing, but as an article posted on the ASLA Dirt Blog states, private entities are increasingly looked at to fund new park projects due to the lack of public funds available. “Business improvement districts, park conservancies, and even private developers” are being relied upon to support parks on a national scale said J William Thompson, Editor of Landscape Architecture Magazine. When the private sector has to step in to support public spaces it means that those spaces must be used as there own fundraisers, a practice with advantages and disadvantages. In a way these sites become self-sustaining—if the job gets done of course.

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In relation to California’s budget climate, public park funding dollars may diminish and private entities will have to provide aid if parks are to continue to offer the same level of service to the public sector. An article by Michael Seaman of the Planning Division of the California Department of Parks and Recreation gives some advice on where else to turn for funding and increased resources. Other channels of revenue include “donations and volunteer support, grants, assessments of existing property, and impact fees on new developments.” Also listed is marketing to increase a park’s costumer base which would improve the donations and volunteer pool and also increase awareness for potential public-private collaborations and partnerships, which is another channel mentioned.

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With California’s national parks already in so much trouble, it is crucial for all to consider how we will pay for the maintenance of existing local parks and the constructing of new ones. As an article in the Huffington Post by Don Thompson says, parks are losing funding to cope with the huge budget deficit. There are options out there to turn this trend around, but action must be taken now so that parks don’t become few and far between.

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All it takes is a little ingenuity.

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