Researchers Study New York City Park Useage
Inwood resident Kimberly Payne relaxes in Inwood Park in May 2010.
There is no way to measure the value of a comfortable swing under a shady tree on a hot summer’s day. But as parks advocates gear up to make the case for providing sufficient funding for green space under a new administration, they have found one way to try.
New Yorkers for Parks in partnership with researchers from New York University has devised a method to answer a seemingly simple question: How many people use the city’s parks on a daily basis?
The question has proven difficult to answer because of the significant manpower required to count park users, but researchers dispatched trained undergraduate and graduate students in all seasons of the year and on weekdays and
Couples walk through Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights in November 2010.
In the 10 parks they surveyed — from People’s Park in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx to Rappaport Playground in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn — they found that almost 80% of adults surveyed use the neighborhood playground at least once a week. Nearly 70% make less than $60,000 a year. Three quarters of users live in the neighborhood and walk to the park.
Holly Leicht, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, said the survey showed “just how essential these small neighborhood playgrounds are to people living in those communities, particularly lower-income households.”
More accurately tracking park users could also help the city make difficult decisions about directing scarce maintenance dollars.
“Right now, the parks department has to allocate staff resources based on anecdotal evidence. This provides firmer data for using those calculations. It make sense to send more maintenance resources toward that [busy] park than one that isn’t heavily used,” Ms. Leicht said.
To be sure, this raises concern that directing resources away from parks could make them even less appealing, but Ms. Leicht said data could also be used to improve less popular parks.
The results also indicate parks’ limitations as a public resource, researchers said, noting that while they found high usage rates in the summer those dropped to almost nothing in the winter months. Diana Silver, a professor at New York University, said that suggests that relying on parks to encourage children to be more active won’t be enough without adequate indoor facilities as well.
“We think about parks and playground being answer to obesity crisis. For a substantial part of the year, parks are not well utilized and can’t be well utilized,” she said.
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In the matter concerning economics, public good is an item that is non-rivalrous, and also non-excludable. In that, I mean a good that people cannot be excluded from using such as public parks and public beaches. In case of using such a commodity, no other person may be granted limited access to the commodity. This result to the same commodity being available to all equally and without the need for competition always evidenced in the word of economics. Other examples linked to the public good include the fresh air that we breath, lighthouses, as well as, the knowledge amount that we can assume through studying.
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