Coolidge Park, on Chattanooga’s North Shore. (Photo: Bob Butters)

Recently, 134 city leaders backed a “10-minute walk to a park” campaign—an ambitious goal to provide all Americans access to a park or green space within a 10-minute (or half-mile) walk.

The bipartisan list of mayors across the nation includes Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, as well as the mayors of Memphis and Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Gadsden, Alabama.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, representing over 1,000 U.S. mayors, also unanimously passed a resolution urging all mayors to actively pursue the 10-minute walk to a park goal.

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“I am proud we’re supporting the goal of a 10-minute walk to a quality park for all,” U.S. Conference of Mayors President and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a prepared statement. “New Orleans’ recreation department recently received national accreditation—proof that at our parks, and those all across America, people are connecting and building happier and healthier communities.”

Studies indicate that high-quality parks provide a wide range of benefits to urban residents and cities themselves. The list of benefits includes physical and mental health, by providing opportunities to be physically active and interact with nature; economic support, by boosting business and helping revitalize neighborhoods; community-building, by providing opportunities for neighbors to interact with each other and work together to improve their surroundings; and environmental benefits, by cleaning and cooling the air, improving climate resilience, and providing opportunities for environmental education.

Beginning in 2018, the campaign, led by The Trust for Public Land in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association and Urban Land Institute, will work with select cities across the country on measurable policies and strategies to advance the 10-minute walk vision.

Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of city park development for The Trust for Public Land, said:

Everyone deserves to have a park within a 10-minute walk—that is why we are in the midst of mapping park access for every city and town across America …. We have already mapped more than 100,000 parks in close to 7,700 communities across the country, and as our research shows, more than 100 million Americans currently don’t have access to the countless benefits parks provide. These mayors deserve enormous credit for endorsing the 10-minute walk.

Voters pass funding for local parks
On a related note, on Nov. 7, both Democrat and Republican voters across America passed local and state ballot measures that will provide more than $1.5 billion for parks and conservation.

The Trust for Public Land President Will Rogers said:

In 2017, there were 41 local and state conservation measures and 36 passed, creating a total of more than $2 billion for local parks and open space. At a time when Americans seem to be increasingly divided, one thing we all agree on is that we love our parks, whatever our political party. That passage rate of 88 percent in the past year isn’t surprising. It’s consistent with what we’ve seen for the past 30 years. In the last three decades, voters in nearly all 50 states have approved close to $100 billion for local parks and open space. Whatever their politics, voters are willing to spend to create and protect local parks.

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