The answer may seem too good to be true.
According to the Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge (BREC), city parks have important positive effects on communities. Some of the benefits include community revitalization, economic development, the creation of safer neighborhoods, increased community engagement, green infrastructure benefits, childhood educational opportunities, public health promotion, smart urban growth, tourism, and the promotion of the arts.
With these benefits, concerns about living in an urban area can be addressed in a different manner. When one generally thinks of urban areas, pollution and crime rates come to mind as major deterrents. Parks can aid in solving these worrisome problems.
According to the American Planning Association, though city residents are generally concerned about the implementation of city parks because of the potential crime increase, the opposite has been shown to be true. This is, in part, because spending time in nature has been proven to alleviate mental fatigue and stress, causing a general decrease in the likelihood of violent activity.
Researchers at the University of Illinois have also discovered that those who live near outdoor parks and natural recreational areas are in general more familiar with their neighbors. This awareness causes neighbors to look out for each other and in return, create a safer area. Green recreational areas foster strong social ties, and secure that people will be outdoors more often. These factors contribute to creating a safer environment for play and education.
If you walk through a crime-riddled urban area (which I wouldn’t recommend), you may notice that the areas where the most crimes are committed are barren, concrete places that are not at all conductive to environmental education or natural relaxation. These spaces are frightening to most people, so they generally avoid them. The absence of people makes these areas more prone to crime. Green recreational areas solve this problem by coaxing residents into natural environments and encouraging outdoor fun.
Green recreational areas have also been proven to mitigate negative effects on human health due to climate, air, and water pollution. The dark surface of roads and rooftops tend to absorb light and heat, especially in warm weather. This causes cities to remain very hot during the day compared to the surrounding suburban areas. This prolonged and intense heat has caused an increase in the number of heat strokes and other heat-caused ailments. City parks can relieve this problem by providing a tree canopy that, "reduces air temperature by about five to ten degrees", according to University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture, the tree canopy also aids in removing harmful pollutants found in high concentration in urban areas due to industry, traffic, and other sources.
With the overwhelming number of environmental problems being identified and addressed internationally, it’s easy to overlook the simple good that can come from city parks. This being said, it is critical that people understand the wonderful things that can come from supporting the implementation of local, natural, recreational areas. The social and environmental benefits are too critical to be ignored.