|Posted:||December 5, 2017 10:33 AM|
|From:||Representative Harry Readshaw|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Co-Sponsor: Pittsburgh Parks Referendum|
In the near future, I will introduce legislation to permit a referendum question to be placed on an election ballot within the City of Pittsburgh authorizing a specific revenue source to be dedicated to the establishment, maintenance and aid to a public park within the city.
City parks provide much needed places for residents to participate in sports, exercise and fun activities by providing school programs, community and family events, health, fitness and educational programs for seniors and summer camps.
The city’s future depends on providing quality education and safe places to play for our children. Our parks are an important resource for science, technology, engineering and math ---or STEM education ---and recreation for our kids outside of school. Without increased funding, our parks will struggle to provide the educational resources that have already served thousands of young people across our city. Our children deserve opportunities and safe places to explore and learn by connecting with nature.
Current funding sources are inadequate to support basic maintenance and repairs, much less capital improvements of public parks. Allegheny Regional Asset District funds are available for City parks but can only be used under state law to support parks with 200+ acres (the five City Regional Parks: Schenley, Frick, Highland, Riverview and Emerald View Park). The vast majority of City parks, including such notable places as Allegheny Commons, Sheraden Park, Phillps Park, Mellon Square, McKinley Park, Wightman, Westinghouse Park, Mellon Park, Larimer Park, Chadwick Park, Arsenal Park, and Southside Park receive no ARAD funding.
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy was created twenty years ago to help fill the gap and has raised over $100 million to fund parks restoration and improvements and programming. Federal, state, and private funding sources relied upon by PPC can go away at any time. A stable source of funding needs to be established to provide funds for park maintenance and improvements. According to the Trust for Public Land, Pittsburgh’s per capita annual spending on parks ranks low compared to comparable cities.
Pittsburgh voters have already expressed their willingness to pay a modest increase in taxes to support local amenities, as evidenced by the passage of the library tax voter referendum in 2011. The voters should have the opportunity to address the needs of their local parks in similar fashion. Parks are one of the most important public assets in our city, free and open to the public, and need to be preserved and protected. Well-maintained parks increase real estate values and promote public safety in their communities.
Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation to allow the public to consider identifying additional funding sources to maintain our public parks within the City of Pittsburgh.
Introduced as HB1962