The city of Chicago has a modest standard for parks: for every 1,000 people, there should be two acres of open space. Unfortunately, half of Chicago’s 2.7 million residents still live in communities that fail to meet that standard. Existing open spaces are often difficult to reach, due to highways and other arterial roadways blocking the way, or unsafe conditions caused by gang activity. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Park District have signaled their willingness to work on the problem, though much remains to be done.
Living Well Los Banos, a group dedicated to making residents healthier through swimming, walking and other physical activities, have made adult lap swimming available to residents at Pacheco High School Monday to Friday from 7:30 to 9pm through a pilot joint use program with the Los Banos Unified School District. The agreement allows lap swimming to occur when the school district doesn’t use the pool for its sports program and demonstrates how sharing a facility under joint-use endeavors can work.
Westlake Park is owned by the city of Broomfield but has been jointly used and maintained by the Adams 12 school district because Westlake Middle School also uses the park. The asphalt courts, constructed in 1978, have become worn and cracked, and will now undergo the much needed repairs to remain safe for public use.
The exchange entails an estimated $5.5 million for the 2011-2012 academic year from the November 2010 voter approved half cent sales and transactions use tax that began on April 1, 2011 and includes access to facilities which are either unused or underutilized during non-school hours. The agreement will be in effect for ten years and there is an option for it to be extended for another ten years. Additionally, the board approved a memorandum of understanding for a civic-center joint use agreement that will allow residents to use the school facilities during off hours in exchange for the building of a new gym and renovation to the high schools amphitheater.
The City Council unanimously approved a joint-use agreement between itself and the San Diego Unified School District that will allow a K-8 school that had no access to grass on campus to finally have access to an open green space. Construction will include a 1.5-acre field and track and will replace a dirt-and-gravel lot and will be available for public use outside school hours. When completed, the city and school district will share annual operation and maintenance costs. “This is a park-starved area of San Diego, and we desperately need this joint-use field,” San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald said. “We’ve got to get some parks in for the community.”
Green Access and Equity for Ventura County, is a policy report summary for Ventura County of The City Project’s 2011 report, Mapping Green Access and Equity for Southern California – Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego, Kern, Santa Barbara and Imperial – using narrative and legal analyses, geographic information system (GIS) mapping tools, and demographic and economic data. The report identifies joint use agreements as 1 of 3 strategies to increase children’s physical activity.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris was the guest speaker at Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s gang forum on April 19th, 2011 in Meadowview. Harris stressed the need to treat gang violence with a community prevention approach. She likened gang violence to a public health issue and identified joint use of school facilities and a renewed focus on school safety as an effective strategy to reduce gang violence.
The National Physical Activity Plan includes joint use agreements (JUAs) as important strategies in both the Education sector and the Parks, Fitness Recreation and Sport (PFRS) sector. The Make the Move Report – 2010-2011 National Implementation of the U.S. Physical Activity Plan lists increasing the number of JUAs by 10% over the next 5 years as a priority for the PRFS sector. The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition is co-leading this strategy with the National Recreation and Park Association. Click the link above to access the referenced documents.
Low-income, park-poor communities in California’s North Orange County stand to benefit from increased access to green space, says a recent policy report. The City Project’s findings show that safe parks and recreational areas encourage healthy living habits leading to a better quality of life. The January 2011 report, “Healthy Parks, Schools and Communities: Green Access and Equity for Orange County,” is part of The City Project’s multiphase project to map and analyze park access and equity in nine southern California counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego, Kern, Santa Barbara, and Imperial. The aim is to provide up-to-date information about green-access issues to concerned citizens, community groups, government officials, planners, funders, and other decision makers. The Kresge Foundation supported the work.
$2.1 million in grant funds will be made available during the next three years as part of the Playful City USA program. KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to saving play, created the Playful City USA program in 2007 to help local governments address the Play Deficit by ensuring their children have the time and space they need to play and to be active and healthy. Playful City USA is a national recognition program honoring cities and towns that make play a priority and use innovative new programs to get children playing outdoors more.
A total of 103 grants worth $2.1 million are available to Playful City USA recognized cities and towns between 2011-13. Grants range in values of $30,000, $20,000 and $15,000 and will be awarded to existing Playful City USA communities as well as communities receiving Playful City USA recognition for the first time. The $30,000 and $15,000 grants are available for projects relating to joint-use agreements and the $20,000 grants will be awarded to cities using the community playground build process. Cities also are eligible to receive multiple grants during the three-year period.