Thursday, October 4, 2012

What is a Greenway Worth?

What is a Greenway Worth?

While there are the obvious physical characteristics and noted health benefits of green spaces, there are many other perks of establishing more of these parks, trails and greenways in your community.

Economic Benefits of Greenways: Summary of Findings

Real Property Values

Many studies demonstrate that parks, greenways and trails increase nearby property values, thus increasing local tax revenues. Such increased revenues often offset greenway acquisition costs.
A. California's Secretary for the State Resources Agency estimated that $100 million would be returned to local economies each year from an initial park bond investment of $330 million (Gilliam, 1980).
B. A greenbelt in Boulder, Colorado increased aggregate property values for one neighborhood by $5.4 million, resulting in $500,000 of additional annual property tax revenues. The tax alone could recover the initial cost of the $1-5 million greenbelt in three years (Cornell, Lillydahl, and Singel, 1978).
C. In the vicinity of Philadelphia's 1,300 acre Pennypack Park, property values correlate significantly with proximity to the park. In 1974, the park accounted for 33 percent of the value of land 40 feet away from the park, nine percent when located 1,000 feet away, and 4.2 percent at a distance of 2,500 feet (Hammer, Coughlin and Horn, 1974).

Expenditures by Residents
Spending by local residents on greenway related activities helps support recreation related business and employment, as well as businesses patronized by greenway and trail users.
A. Residents are increasingly spending vacations closer to home, thus spending increasing am ounts of vacation dollars within the boundaries of the state (NPS 1990).
B. In 1988, recreation and leisure was the third largest industry in Califoraia. More than $30 billion is spent each year by Californians on recreation and leisure in their state. This amounts to 12 percent of total personal consumption (California Department of Parks and Recreation, 1988).

Commercial Uses
Greenways often provide business opportunities, locations and resources for commercial activities such as recreation equipment rentals and sales, lessons, and other related businesses.
A. Along the lower Colorado River in Arizona, 13 concessionaires under permit to the Bureau of Land Management generate more than $7.5 million annually, with a major spinoff effect in the local economy (Bureau of Land Management, 1987).
B. Golden Gate National Recreation Area has contracts with ten primary concessionaires. Total 1988 gross revenues for these concessionaires were over $16 million, over 25 percent of which was spent on payroll (NPS, 1990).

Greenways are often major tourist attractions which generate expenditures on lodging, food, and recreation related services. Moreover, tourism is Maryland's second largest and most stable industry, and is projected to become its largest.
A. A poll conducted by the President's Commission on Americans Outdoors found that natural beauty was the single most important criterion for tourists in selecting outdoor recreation sites (Scenic America, 1987). Maryland's Department of Economic and Employment Development estimated the annual value of tourism and commercial activities directly related to the Chesapeake Bay was $31.6 billion in 1989 (DEED 1989).
B. The San Antonio Riverwalk is considered the anchor of the $1.2 billion tourist industry in San Antonio, Texas. A user survey concluded that the Riverwalk is the second most important tourist attraction in the state of Texas (NPS 1990).
C. The Governor's Committee on the Environment reported in 1988 that the governors of five New England states officially recognized open space as a key element in the quality of life in their region. They credited that quality of life with bringing rapid economic growth and a multi-billion dollar tourism industry to the region (Governor's Committee on the Environment, 1988).

Agency Expenditures
The agency responsible for managing a river, trail or greenway can help support local businesses by purchasing supplies and services. Jobs created by the managing agency may also help increase local employment opportunities.

Corporate Relocation
Evidence shows that the quality of life of a community is an increasingly important factor in corporate relocation decisions. Greenways are often cited as important contributors to quality of life.
The quality of life in a community is an increasingly important factor in corporate relocation decisions; greenways are often cited as important contributors to quality of life and to the attractiveness of a community to which businesses are considering relocating.
A. An annual survey of chief executive officers conducted by Cushman and Wakefield in 1989 found that quality of life for employees was the third most important factor in locating a business (NPS, 1990).
B. St. Mary's County, Maryland, has found over the last ten years that businesses which move to the county because of tax incentives tended to leave as soon as the incentives expire. However, businesses that move to the county because of its quality of life remain to become long term residents and taxpayers (NPS, 1990).
C. Site location teams for businesses considering San Antonio, Texas regularly visit the San Antonio Riverwalk. A location on the river-walk is considered very'desirable; A regional grocer, the HEB Company, relocated its corporate headquarters to a historic building oriented towards the river (NPS, 1990).
D. The Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress reports that a city's quality of Life is more important than purely business- related factors when it comes to attracting new businesses, particularly in the high-tech and service industries (Scenic America, 1987).

Public Cost Reduction
The conservation of rivers, trails, and greenways can help local governments and other public agencies reduce costs resulting from flooding and other natural hazards.
While greenways have many economic benefits it is important to remember the intrinsic environmental and recreation value of preserving rivers, trails and other open space corridors. Greenways along rivers can help reduce the cost of repairing flood damage and improving water quality.
A In a study of major land uses in Culpepper County, Virginia, it was found that "for every dollar collected from farm/forest/open space, 19 cents is spent on services' "(Vance and Larson, 1988).
B. In Yarmouth, Maine, an analysis of costs of providing municipal services to a specific parcel proposed for parks showed that the annual costs of those services exceeded revenues generated by taxes by $140,000 annually. This was compared to an annual cost of $76,000 over 20 years to purchase the property (World Wildlife Fund, 1992).
C. In Boulder, Colorado, the 1988 public cost for maintaining developed areas was estimated to be over $2,500 per acre. The cost for maintainingopen space in the city was only $75 per acre, or less than three percent the cost of non-open space (Crain, 1988)

Adapted from: Economic Impacts of Protecting Rivers, Trails, and Greenway Corridors - National Park Service, 1990.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On Greenways and Crime

On Greenways and Crime

So, there's a debate going on about greenways promoting crime and this being a hub for all sorts of illicit activity. More than it is right now? We're seeking to clean up this abandoned space and turn it into something beautiful and functional for the community.
What do yout think?

Crime And Vandalism

Issue: Do recreational trails and other types of greenways cause crime, vandalism and other disturbances? What evidence is there to support or to alleviate the concerns of adjacent land owners?

Facts: There is little evidence to support the fear that greenway trails will produce disturbance to private landowners. In fact the evidence is to the contrary.

A 1980 study by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources compared landowners attitudes on a pair of proposed trails with landowner attitudes along a pair of similar trails already established. On the proposed trails 75% of landowners thought that if a trail was constructed it would mean more vandalism and other crimes. By contrast, virtually no landowners along the two constructed trails (0% and 6%, respectively), agreed with the statement "trail-users steal". (Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, 1980)

A 1987 study of Seattle's Burke-Gilman Trail found little or no crime or vandalism experienced by adjacent property owners. The study surveyed property owners, realtors, and police officers. According to the realtors, property "near" the trail is significantly easier to market and sells for an average of 6% more than similar properties located elsewhere. Nearly two-thirds of adjacent andowners believed that the trail "increased the quality of fife in the neighborhood", and not a single resident thought the trail should be closed. (Evaluation of the Burk Gilman Trail's effect on Property Values and Crime, Seattle, WA Engineering Dept., 1987)

A former opponent of the Burke-Gilman trail (whose home is on the trail) stated that the "trail is much more positive than I expected. I was involved in citizens groups opposed to the trail. I now feel that the trail is very positive; [there are] fewer problems than before the trail was built; [there was] more litter and beer cans and vagrants [before it was built]." Not a single resident surveyed said that present conditions were worse than prior to construction of the trail.

A 1992 study by the National Park Service of the impacts of rail-trails on nearby property owners found that "a majority of landowners reported no increase in problems since the trails opened. That living near trails was better than they had expected it to be, and that living near the trails was better than living near unused railroad lines before the trails were opened". (Impact of Rail-Trails, National Park Service, 1992).

Comments from adjacent landowners interviewed for the NPS study included the following:
"Vandalism, robbery and safety concerns I originally had were unfounded." - (Landowner on California's Lafayette/Moraga Trail) "I was very opposed to the idea at first, fearing that it would be used by motorcyclists, but I am very pleased with the trail - it provides a safe alternative to using the highway for joggers and bicyclists, and it gives me a safe and comfortable place for my walks." - (Adjacent landowner on Florida's St. Mark's Trail)

"We are a small town and most everyone uses the trail at one time or another. The city of Durango has no bad comments to make on the trail; they all like it very much." - (Public Official on Iowa's Heritage Trail)
A 1988 survey of greenways in several states has found that such parks typically have not experienced serious problems regarding ... vandalism, crime, trespass, [or] invasion of privacy ... Prior to developing park facilities, these concerns were strongly voiced in opposition to proposed trails. After park development, however, it was found that fears did not materialize ... concerns expressed by the neighbors opposed...have not proven to be a post-development problem in any of the parks surveyed. ("A Feasibility Study for Proposed Linear Park," Oregon Department of Transportation, Parks and Recreation Division, May 1988).
A 1990 study by the Appalachian Trail Conference of crimes on the Appalachian Trail found that despite use by 3-4 million persons per year, that there were only 0.05 per 100,000 or I in 2 million. This means you are more likely to be struck by lightning or victimized in your home than as a hiker on the Appalachian Trail. (Source: Appalachian Trail Conference, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia)