Good for You, Good for Cities

WELCOME. Pennsylvania’s urban parks and recreation systems are vital community assets providing essential municipal services to over 80 percent of the residents of the Commonwealth. People of all ages and walks of life enjoy parks and associated facilities for recreation, renewal and learning.
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GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH: Our parks and recreation facilities and programs promote physical and mental health and wellness—for everyone. At least 84 percent of Pennsylvanians live in urban areas—cities, boroughs and inner-ring suburbs with over 10,000 people. And people don’t just live near urban parks and facilities, they regularly use them. In fact, 4 out of 5 Pennsylvanians (74 percent) surveyed in 2014 as part of the development of the Pennsylvania Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) believe that parks, trails and open spaces are essential components of our health care system. The number one cited benefit of local parks and outdoor recreation services is that they improve physical health and fitness, and the added benefits of reduced stress and improved mental health ranked third. Parks and recreation provide a refuge from our busy lives and a community “commons” connecting people to one another.

GOOD FOR OUR ECONOMY: A safe, attractive and well-maintained urban park and recreation system is critical to local economies and helps draw visitors. Parks help attract investment and relocation back to urban areas in an age where amenities and quality of life are increasingly important factors to people at every stage of life. Parks preserve and teach us about our history and legacies. Our parks— our most democratic spaces—provide critical places for civic engagement, gathering, and recreating. And Pennsylvania’s population is increasingly diverse, making parks and open spaces even more important to the vibrancy of our communities. Parks and recreation facilities and programs offer affordable recreation and learning opportunities for all. By investing in the maintenance and improvement of our extensive urban parks and recreation facilities, municipalities are providing essential services: 7 out of 10 recreation enthusiasts surveyed in the SCORP believe that recreation services should be a core function of state and local governments. And well-maintained parks and trails can significantly, positively impact real estate values, help spur additional development, and in turn result in increased tax revenues.

GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: Local parks, trails and greenways play vital roles in conserving landscapes and open space, which in turn help keep our air clean, our water protected, and our cities sustainable. People are able to connect to nature in their own neighborhoods. Parks are playing an increasingly intrinsic role in storm water management and flood control. Parks and associated green spaces also help to protect sources of clean drinking water. And healthy ecosystems matter to Pennsylvanians. A whopping 90 percent of 2014 Pennsylvania Resident Online Survey respondents listed trails, natural areas and waterways category (out of 10 choices) as what they value most in a community.

ONE GOOD YEAR: 2017 GOOD FOR CITIES CAMPAIGN RECAP. We made an infographic to show our GOOD work. Check it out and download the graphic by CLICKING HERE.


Meet Urban Parks Champion, Meg Cheever, Founder of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy – 6/27/18

Meet Urban Parks Champion, Easton Mayor Sal Panto 3/7/18

Meet Urban Parks Champion, Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse 1/18/18

Meet Urban Parks Champion, Kathy Dahlkemper, Erie County Executive 12/14/17



Episode #1: Why kids need nature-based education




Outdoor recreation brings people, dogs and horses to Hollow Oak Land Trust conservation areas – 1/3/19

How Philly is using city jobs to tackle poverty – ( 12/17/18

New Urban Infrastructure Parks – (NRPA) 12/7/18

Why Cities See More Dog Parks Than Playgrounds – (U.S. News & World Report) 11/28/18

To bolster academics, Philly schools turning to the outdoors – ( 11/12/18

This is Your Brain on Nature – (The Dirt) 11/01/18


Erie launches program to preserve urban forests – ( 11/1/18

First 1,000 Days of the Kenny Administration – (City of Philadelphia) 9/30/18

Conservation Lands as Critical Public Infrastructure – (NRPA) 9/4/18

‘Risky’ playgrounds are making a comeback – (CityLab) 8/22/18

More money is being spent on America’s urban parks (but there’s still room for improvement) – (mnn) 8/22/18

Renovated Harrisburg playgrounds to open soon – (abc27) 8/10/18

PA parks join the fight against opioids – (Keystone Edge) 8/1/18

The first phase of the Reading Viaduct Rail Park is finally opening – (Philly Voice) 6/12/18

Playing for keeps in Reading – (Keystone Edge) 5/11/18

Easton looks to spruce up small open spaces that aren’t ‘shining examples’ in city’s parks system – (The Morning Call) 4/23/18

Pittsburgh ‘Cap’ Park Plans to Honor Neighborhood History – (Next City) 4/3/18

Riverfronts bringing new life and energy to Philadelphia – ( 3/22/18

To remake Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park as ‘urban oasis’, officials seek local input – (Curbed Philly) 3/19/18

10-Minute Walk Planning Grant and Technical Assistance – (NRPA)

Conservation work earns Pittsburgh national ‘bird treaty’ status – (Trib Live) 1/16/18

Local Officials’ Perceptions of Parks and Recreation  – (NRPA)

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy names new CEO – (Pittsburgh Business Times) 12/7/17

Philly reveals proposed sites for citywide Rebuild initiative – (Philly Voice) 12/1/17

Frick Environmental Center earns LEED certification – (TRIBLive) 11/30/17

More city parks, recreation attention comes with a cost – (Sun-Gazette) 11/12/17

Cities are only as strong as their parks and green spaces – (Keystone Edge) 11/6/17

Paths to Prosperity – (Keystone Edge) 10/11/17

Parks and Recreation’s Big Picture Issues – (NRPA) by Tim Herd 10/10/17

5 N.J. mayors just signed onto this effort – 10/10/17

Mayors Are On Board: 10-Minute Walk to a Park – NRPA YouTube Video 10/10/17

Nation’s Mayors Launch Groundbreaking 10-Minute Walk to a Park Campaign – NRPA 10/10/17

Best Practices for States to Fund Outdoor Recreation – Headwaters Economics September 2017

2017 PA Greenways and Trails Summit – (Pennsylvania Recreation & Park Society) 9/15/2017

Spraygrounds bring summer joy, for less money and with less effort than pools – ( 8/9/2017

From Steel to Green: Revitalizing Pittsburgh Through Its Park System – (National Recreation and Park Association) 8/1/2017

The First National Study of Neighborhood Parks – Implications for Physical Activity – (American Journal of Preventative Medicine) October 2016

Congress Could Give Important Bipartisan Boost to City Parks – (Next City) 7/10/2017

Philly doctors are now prescribing park visits to city kids – ( 7/5/2017

New Tool Helps Planners Make a Stronger Case for Parks – (Next City) 7/5/2017

Online fundraiser for Philly’s Rail Park soars above goal –
(Philly Voice) 6/20/2017

Officials celebrate six new playgrounds, pledge more to come –
(Philadelphia Magazine) 6/19/2017

Arians to unveil York City parks program Saturday – 
(York Dispatch) 6/14/2017

Funding Secured for Penn’s Landing Makeover –
(Philadelphia Magazine) 6/9/2017

User and business response to the 2016 Philly Free Streets event (PDF) – (Open Streets PHL and The Knight Foundation) 5/31/2017

PA cities close roads for bicyclists and pedestrians. Cars need not apply. – (Keystone Edge) 5/6/2017

The Urban Common Spaces That Show Us We Belong to Something Larger – (Yes! Magazine) 4/26/2017

With Orkney Park, Northern Liberties aims to preserve its ‘last wilderness’ – (Curbed Philadelphia) 4/25/2017

A slow evolution into modern Philadelphia parks – (Philly Voice) 3/13/2017

Designed to Thrive: Creating, Vibrant, Resilient Cities for the 21st Century – Tom Murphy, Yale School of Forestry & Environment

Homelessness in Parks – Results of NRPA Survey

City Parks a Smart Investment for America (PDF)
The City Parks Alliance released a set of new infographic illustrating city parks are a smart investment for America’s health, economy, and environment.

In Chicago and Philadelphia, the Difference a Park Makes – (The New York Times) 3/12/2017

OUR PARKS AND RECREATION FACILITIES NEED YOU: While our urban parks and recreation facilities provide these essential services and add enormous value to the economic, social and physical well-being of Pennsylvanians, many urban parks are aging. Older cities and boroughs face deep challenges in keeping pace with the needs of the parks and the services they provide. Decreased budgets, staffing and hours mean that necessary maintenance and ongoing improvements are threatening our parks statewide.

The Urban Parks & Recreation Alliance is here to help.

Responding to the opportunity to build support for urban parks, the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society is building a diverse statewide coalition dedicated to good urban parks for all. Please add yourself, your municipality, your organization, or your business to the long list of supporters for urban parks. Together we will keep these parks good for you, and good for all.

Join the PA Urban Parks and Recreation Alliance of PRPS

  • Promote and help position urban parks and recreation as essential municipal services.
  • Educate your community about the many health, economic and quality of life benefits of your parks and recreation services.
  • Be an active voice for urban parks and recreation by strengthening partnerships and connections with them.
  • Support and strengthen local government and community investments in urban parks and recreation.
  • Help to grow state investments in urban parks and recreation.
  • Learn how urban recreation and related programming can be funded.
  • Share best practices and training opportunities through relevant networks.
  • Help the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society do more good work for you, which is good for all of us.

Urban Alliance Members


10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania • Allegheny Commons Initiative • Allegheny Community Center • Allegheny County Health Department • Allentown Parks & Recreation • Berks Nature • BikePGH • Borough of Indiana • Borough of Norristown • Borough of State College • Borough of West Chester • City of Easton • City of Pottsville • CleanWays of Allegheny County, Inc. • ClearWater Conservancy • Fairmount Park Conservancy • Friends of the Riverfront • Group Against Smog and Pollution • GTECH Strategies • Hilltop Alliance • Hollow Oak Land Trust • Lake Erie Region Conservancy • Lancaster Recreation Commission • Landforce • Lawrenceville United • Lighten Up Lancaster County • Mount Washington Community Development Corporation • Natural Lands Trust PA • OLIN • PA Route 6 Alliance • Penn State Center Pittsburgh • Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources • Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA • Pennsylvania Municipal League • Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society • Philadelphia Parks & Recreation • Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy • Reading Recreation Commission • Rider Park First Community Foundation Partnership • South West Pittsburgh Community Development Corporation • Student Conservation Association • Sustainable Pittsburgh • The Conservation Fund • Toole Recreation Planning • Tree Pittsburgh • Venture Outdoors • Wildlands Conservancy • YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, Collegiate


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