Park makes good financial sense

Published 4:39 pm Saturday, April 18, 2015

To the editor:

When the idea of turning the Obici Hospital site into a city park first emerged, I personally wanted it to be a park but I didn’t know if it could be financially justified. This prompted me to research this further. This search led me to The Trust for Public Land research on the Economic Benefits of Parks and Economic Development. I also learned of the extensive research done by Dr John L. Crompton, professor, Texas A&M. I have come to realize that a park is not only feasible but also a better financial deal for the city.

Twenty years of research across the United States on the economic benefits of parks and open space consistently reveals a 20 percent increase in the economy. Conversely, the cost of providing public services (i.e. sewage, schools, police and infrastructure maintenance) to residential development results in a net loss of 15 percent, and this continues year after year. This is convincing evidence that a park not only pays for itself but also will continue to bring financial benefits to the city for years to come.

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Parks and open space are one of the most important contributors to tourism, and tourism is one of the No. 1 growth industries in the United States. In every study done on tourism, the top two or three reasons for travel is visiting scenic areas, and historic sites and ecotourism are one of the fastest growing industries. The Dismal Swamp and Nansemond River offer such opportunities. Our city is also rich in history. We truly have everything tourists are looking for right here in our downtown area of Suffolk.

The greatest attraction in Greenville, S.C., is its city park system with a tax revenue of $4,373,789 from tourism.

Mecklenburg County, N.C., tourists spent more than $53,600,000 in the community due to parks and park events.

In 2012, Virginia tourists spent $21 billion and employed 210,020 residents.

According to “A Smart Investment for Americas Economy,” “Our parks, public lands and waters drive both consumerism and tourism by supporting the outdoor recreation economy ($646 billion). Outdoor recreation is no longer a “nice to have,” it is now a “must have” as leaders across the country recognize the undeniable economic, social and health benefits of outdoor recreation. Parks are the cornerstone of our outdoor recreation economy.”

Obici City Park offers a great opportunity to create a front door to our city. Our city leaders are in a position to move our city forward with the driving force tourism has to offer our economy. We need a city park that is visible on Main Street, not hidden behind businesses. Let’s not miss this opportunity.


Jean Carmean