Pittsburgh Parks for All
PUMP is pleased to announce our enthusiastic support for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s “Pittsburgh Parks for All” referendum that will be on the ballot on November 5th. If passed by the voters, the initiative will provide equitable, sustained, and critically important investments in parks across all of our neighborhoods in the city. We believe that every person, in every neighborhood, should have access to safe recreational spaces and activities. This is one of the core ideals that young Pittsburghers shared with us again and again during our community planning process that resulted in our Advocacy + Public Policy Agenda released in late 2017. We have steadfastly advocated for this ideal ever since.
As the largest permit user within the city’s park system through our Pittsburgh Sports League (PSL) program, PUMP has a unique and broad vantage point of the needs in our parks system. On any given night throughout most of the year, you can find thousands of PUMP members and PSL participants gathering in parks and facilities across the City of Pittsburgh recreating and connecting through sport and play. We know exactly how important parks and community gathering spaces are to thriving, vibrant and equitable neighborhoods and communities. Research shows that quality parks contribute to our individual and collective health and wellness, advance economic development, foster sustainable environments, and build community through shared experiences, to name just a few of the societal benefits. We see these benefits every day through our experience in the parks.
We also see firsthand – through these very same experiences – how the lack of available funding and resources has severely limited our city’s ability to ensure and maintain a quality park experience for all who are here. Far too many of our parks have fallen into a state of disrepair and neglect from decades of limited investment. Aging and inaccessible playgrounds, poor or inoperable lighting, pathways in need of replacement, and ball fields without proper amounts of dirt or maintenance for safe play, are examples of all too frequent occurrences in our parks, particularly in the 160 neighborhood and community parks.
Most importantly, these very same issues, among others, are particularly acute in neighborhoods that have not enjoyed the same level of benefit from Pittsburgh’s third renaissance, contributing to considerable inequities across communities. In many of our neighborhoods, we are left with nostalgic memories about what once was, rather than what is. If we are to be(come) a city for ALL, this needs change. To turn this around, we have to reinvest in our parks in a sustained way, starting where the greatest needs exist. We can and must do better.
We have an historic opportunity to write a new and different story for current and future generations – for all who live, work, and play here. If this referendum passes, we will see important reinvestments in ball fields, parks, and neighborhoods that will set us on a pathway for Pittsburgh Parks for All. Join us in taking this first and crucial step toward revitalizing our park system.
We encourage all PUMP members, PSL participants, and city voters to go to the polls on November 5th and vote YES on the Pittsburgh Parks for All referendum.
For more information on the Parks for All referendum, including the ballot question, community need, revenue goals and mechanism, and the detailed Parks Plan for revitalization – visit the Pittsburgh Parks for All website at http://pittsburghparksforall.com/. A short synopsis is also provided at the end of this post.
Want to support the Pittsburgh Parks for All campaign?
Here are a few ways you can show your support for the referendum:
- Spread the word! Tell your friends, family, teammates, and coworkers why you support Pittsburgh Parks for All.
- Volunteer with us! Make sure everyone is informed when they go to vote on November 5th.
- Vote YES on November 5th.
The Pittsburgh Parks for All Plan (brief synopsis):
For over 20 years, the City of Pittsburgh has partnered with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (PPC) to improve the parks resulting in 17 major improvement projects, but this partnership needs significantly more resources to reach each and every one of our parks. Of the City’s 165 parks, the 5 regional parks (which receive RAD funding) are supported by 66 fulltime employees. The other 160 parks (which do not receive RAD funding) are supported by just 39 fulltime employees. Pittsburgh has an estimated $400 million capital project backlog and an annual shortfall of $13 million for maintenance. This does a great disservice to our neighborhood parks, especially those that serve low-income communities and communities of color.
The Parks for All referendum, which the citizens of Pittsburgh have brought to the ballot, hopes to change this and achieve excellence and equity in every park in every neighborhood. The Parks for All referendum, if successful, would result in an additional $10 million per year for a dedicated parks fund through a 0.5 mil property tax increase ($50 per $100,000 of assessed value on all property). These new resources would allow the City of Pittsburgh and PPC to spend equitably across the city, commit to transparency, and ensure citizen input and guidance.
The money would be invested into four key areas: maintenance, rehabilitation, capital projects, and programming. The majority of funding would support maintenance and rehabilitation across all 165 parks – it would allow the City, in partnership with PPC, to hire more fulltime employees, provide better training and equipment, and care for our parks. This would mean funding and staff to improve ball fields by adding dirt, grading, regular dragging, better drainage, having lights fixed, and more.
Funding for capital projects would be distributed equitably, serving the communities with the greatest need first. PPC did research and collected community input to assess the conditions of the parks, and the needs of the communities they serve, to determine which parks should receive funding first. Capital projects will involve a community process so residents can create a park that supports community needs and goals, including housing, education, sustainability, and business development.
View the full plan here.