Saturday, September 26, 2009

Debunking the Robert Moses Parkway Myths With Facts. Making Dollars and Sense

MYTH: The Parkway Preservation Committee “believe[s] that once the entire community is informed of the negative economic and social impacts of closing the entire Parkway that the consensus will be to keep it open. Many of the groups listed by the [Niagara Heritage] Partnership are not locally based and again we believe that many of the local groups are not fully informed of the ramifications of a complete closure.”

FACT: Of the 80 groups listed 65 are located within the bi-national, Buffalo/Niagara River Region.

FACT: Removing the Robert Moses Parkway between Niagara Falls and Lewiston, NY, reclaiming and restoring the natural landscape as a non-motorized National Heritage park with hiking and bicycling trails will boost and revitalize Niagara Falls, the tiny, north-river front communities and the western New York region.

Clear Benefits
According to the Trust for Public Land, communities today usually don’t ask whether parks and open space benefits economies, they ask how large those economic benefits might be. They are coming to realize that all of the other benefits brought by parks and open space—improved recreation and health, cleaner water and air, easier access to the out of doors, even stronger communities—also can engender economic benefits in the form of increased tax receipts, stronger economies, a better ability to attract businesses and residents, and reduced costs for environmental services.”

For several years, the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence has been working with economists to develop methods to study the many ways that park and recreation systems contribute economic value to cities. In 2008, at the request of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, the center used its methodologies to analyze the value of Philadelphia’s park and recreation system.

Based on the analysis, the center found that in 2007 the Philadelphia park system provided the city with revenue of $23.3 million, municipal savings of $16 million, resident savings of $1.15 billion, and a collective increase of resident wealth of $729 million.

These figures included more than $1.08 billion in what economists call “direct-use value” of parks, including sporting activities, walking, picnicking, and other park visitation. These values are calculated by asking residents what they would be willing to pay for these activities if they were not available free from the park system.

Nationwide, national parks support 267,000 private-sector jobs and generate $13.3 billion in economic activity in nearby communities. The proximity to national parks of so-called gateway communities allows them to attract new businesses and residents, boosting community prosperity. Over the past three decades, the economic growth of gateway communities has averaged 1 percent per year higher than average economic growth in their respective states.

Protected forests, wildlife areas, and natural lands support leisure time and recreational activities—such as hunting, fishing, mountain biking, camping, wildlife viewing, and mountain climbing—that pump dollars into local economies.

• A 2006 survey by the U.S. Fish & and; Wildlife Service reported on the spending habits of hunters, fishers, and wildlife watchers. More than 87 million Americans participated in these activities in 2006, and their spending totaled $122.3 billion. Of that, $64.1 billion was spent on sporting equipment, $27.4 billion was trip related, and $20.7 billion went to other items.

• According to a report by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation in partnership with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, hunters and anglers support more jobs nationwide (1.6 million) than does Wal-Mart (1 million), the country’s largest corporation.

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