Community Park Investments

Academics and consultants also have a role to play in this endeavor; they can develop easy-to-implement and low-cost tools, methods, and services that can be immediately used by professionals for evaluation. These study findings should be conveyed to the audiences that matter most—advocacy groups and legislative bodies.

Investing in park-renovation projects can be a wise decision, but there is much work to do if we are to preserve the integrity of this community indicator species. A critical mass of compelling evidence is needed to convince non-believers that parks are an essential service, worthy of public/private investment. We need to move beyond faith alone.

Andrew J. Mowen, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Recreation, Park and Tourism Management Department at Penn State, and was the former manager of research and program evaluation at Cleveland Metroparks. He has authored over 100 publications and led over 20 translational research studies, which document the value and benefits of public parks. Email:

Benjamin D. Hickerson, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor from the same department. His research focuses on leisure and recreation contexts and their relationship with healthy behaviors. He has conducted studies in youth summer camps, community parks, and new media environments. Email:

Greg A. Weitzel, M.S., CPRP, is the Director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Idaho Falls, Idaho. He was also the former Director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Allentown, Penn., where he spearheaded a number of improvements to its park system, including major capital renovations at Cedar Creek Parkway. Email:



Cohen, D. A., Golinelli, D., Williamson, S., Sehgal, A., Marsh, T., and McKenzie, T. L. (2009). “Effects of park improvements on park use and physical activity: Policy and programming implications.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 37(6), 475-480.

Colabianchi, N., Kinsella, A. E., Coulton, C. J., and Moore, S.M. (2009). “Utilization and physical activity levels at renovated and unrenovated school playgrounds.” Preventive Medicine, 48, 140-143.

Gould, E. R. L. (1888). Park areas and open spaces in cities, Publications of the American Statistical Association, 1(2/3), 49-61.

Tester, J., and Baker, R. (2009). “Making the playfields even: Evaluating the impact of an environmental intervention on park use and physical activity.” Preventive Medicine, 48, 316-320.

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Related posts:

  1. University Park
  2. Park Perks
  3. Community Fitness Challenges
  4. “A Park Runs Through It”
  5. Building Community

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