Here’s some video from this morning’s opening of the new, revamped dog park in Clarendon/Arlington, Virginia (I was there at 6 am with my dog and 4 or 5 others. A few key points on the park, from Arlington County:
1) “What was a used car lot and dog park is now much more: combination dog park, passive park area and a demonstration garden of native plants.”
2) “Scarce open space (¾ acre) in a very dense neighborhood (over 8,000 people live within a 10-min walk + 15,000 workers).”
3) “Model of sustainable design – permeable pavement and recycled materials, stormwater managed on property, solar power for water, lights, irrigation, etc.”
4) “After community process, CB adopted the master plan in 2007. Construction contract was approved in 2012. Will be built within $1.7M budget.”
Also important to point out is that parks add tremendous value to communities. See this article, for instance, which explains that a $13 million investment in New York’s Central Park resulted in a $209 million increase in property values over the next 17 years – a 15 fold increase! Also, “After Centennial Olympic Park was built, adjacent condominium prices rose from $115 to $250 a square foot” (more than double). Yet another example: “Improvements in Chattanooga resulted in an increase in annual combined city and county property tax revenues of $592,000 from 1988 to 1996, an increase of 99 percent.” In other words, expenses on parks like these are not really “expenses,” but smart investments, as they pay for themselves multiple times over, not even counting the aesthetic, communal, and other benefits.
Finally, from that same article: “A 2001 survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that 57 percent of voters would choose a home close to parks and open space over one that was not. In addition, the NAR survey found that 50 percent of voters would be willing to pay 10 percent more for a house located near a park or protected open space.” That’s right: great parks, like the Clarendon dog park, are a feature that attract people to communities, thus increasing property values and making the community an even more desirable (and enjoyable) place to live.
The bottom line: “Parks provide intrinsic environmental, aesthetic, and recreation benefits to our cities. They are also a source of positive economic benefits.They enhance property values, increase municipal revenue, bring in homebuyers and workers, and attract retirees.” Note, by the way, that the place was packed already this morning with happy humans and canines? Great stuff, nice job by Arlington County, as usual thinking long-term, not short sighted, and with a broad, overarching, smart community vision in mind.