Friday, August 19, 2016

Colorado: Longmont: Sandstone Ranch Park

Sandstone Ranch Park, Longmont, Colorado. May 2016.

Longmont has a large park system.

Sandstone Ranch Park is one of many parks, green ways, and trails in Longmont.

I used to work for a nonprofit organization that served parks and recreation professionals. The three most important learnings I took from that experience are: 
  1. The Declaration of Independence tells us that every one of us is born with "certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Parks, green ways, and trails are integral to our pursuit of happiness. 
  2. There is a positive correlation between access to well-designed and maintained parks and the deterrence of crime, especially among our youth. 
  3. One city in Missouri had a map of its parks. The parks and recreation director told a group of us that it was his city's goal to ensure that every citizen in that city had a park that was less than a mile from his home. This mission drove decisions about where and how to allocate money for parks.

Sandstone Ranch Park, Longmont, Colorado. May 2016.

Even for those only concerned about the bottom line, parks are good business for a community. From the American Planning Association, community parks bring these benefits: 
  1. Real property values go up.
  2. Municipal revenues increase.
  3. Affluent retirees relocate and stay.
  4. Knowledge workers and talent want to live and work in the community.
  5. People want to buy homes in the community.

Perhaps it's an American cultural tendency to go punitive or rules-driven when considering the solutions to problems instead of going wider and, counter-intuitively, to less rules-driven measures. I am thinking, for example, of crime prevention or reduction - and also safer, calmer streets for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Instead of assuming that the investment of finite resources into more stuff for our community's police, consider how the investment of that same money into well-designed and maintained parks can reduce and prevent crime. AND provide simple enjoyment and quality of life for everyone!

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