Colorado Springs parks report shows good value

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Parks Director Karen Palus gives media interviews at The Broadmoor regarding a new study that shows parks are a gem for the city, including for economic development. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Parks Director Karen Palus gives media interviews at The Broadmoor regarding a new study that shows parks are a gem for the city, including for economic development.
Thursday, the city participated in what seems like a futile exercise by introducing an $85,000 study called "The Economic Benefits of Parks and Recreation in Colorado Springs."

The study was funded and conducted by the Trust for Public Lands, a nationwide conservation organization that's done many such studies.

The study was unveiled at a gathering at The Broadmoor, which recently closed on its land-swap deal with the city that's in litigation.

But why the study?

City Council recently voted 6-3 not to place a small sales tax hike on the April city election ballot to fund parks maintenance. The three who were interested in a ballot measure were Tom Strand, Bill Murray and Jill Gaebler.

As one park supporter who showed up said, "If parks are the golden goose, why would you starve it?"

So promoting the parks system as a boon for the city at this point in time seems to be inconsequential. (Some say the study was done in order to provide ammo to persuade voters to cough up another .1 of a percent sales tax.)

But don't say that to Karen Palus, parks director, who says it's important for citizens to understand how valuable parks, trails and open space are to them and the business community.

"It's an important message for our community," she tells the Independent.

You can view the report here.

But here are a few highlights:

• There are 38,900 homes within the city limits that sit within 500 feet of parks, and those homes have a value that's enhanced by that location by $502 million.

• Parks, trails and open space have the capacity to remove air pollution. That tallies to 338,000 pounds of bad stuff ranging from carbon monoxide to ozone.

• Direct travel spending by visitors comes to nearly $1.5 billion; of that, $135 million is how much tourists spend a year whose primary reason for coming here is to visit parks, trails, open space and "facilities."

• People can save $1,180 per year on medical costs by exercising regularly, presumably in parks, on trails and in open spaces.

• More than 45,000 people use parks, trails and open spaces here regularly every year, a total health care benefit topping $50 million.


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