Cincinnatians are fortunate to have one of the nation’s best park systems. But as we are finding out more and more in the era of tightening budgets, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find funding for public pools, dog parks, maintenance and other general services. So, just why is it that people so often balk at public park spending? More from Next City:
Last November, the Philadelphia City Council approved a $2.67 million increase to funding for the Department of Parks and Recreation. The decision was roundly cheered by residents and the advocacy groups that had long pushed for the cash infusion…And that was just to secure, as Bornfriend mentioned, “a start.” The funding increase is still far less than the additional $17 million a year that Mayor Michael Nutter said, while campaigning for his current office in 2007, was required for basic maintenance of the city’s park system alone.
And that, in a nutshell is the problem: Everyone loves the idea of parks and rec centers, but no one likes actually paying for them. Parks and Recreation services have long been whipping boys of city councils and municipal budget-makers across the country, with funding cuts being less politically charged than those to emergency services and less immediately noticeable than, say, libraries. With long-standing national and global economic uncertainty eating into municipal revenues, cuts to park budgets have become more frequent and pronounced.