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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 21, 2022 03:18 PM
From: Representative Rick Krajewski and Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler
To: All House members
Subject: Healthy Parks for Healthy Communities
In the near future, we plan to introduce legislation to allocate $500 million of the remaining American Rescue Plan funds (ARP) to fund community infrastructure and improve community safety and well-being.

During the pandemic, the usage of parks and recreational spaces increased by 20%. Investing in parks and recreation centers is a one-time investment that will have long-term positive community outcomes. Parks and recreation centers are valuable public resources that provide opportunities for children, youth, and families to play and recreate. They provide productive out-of-school programming that enriches a young-person's life, space for people to connect for local events and to discuss neighborhood concerns and enhance our communities by creating green space. With the proper investments, they can also help to filter and manage stormwater pollution.

In many urban areas of the Commonwealth, parks and recreation centers were built over 100 years ago. A lack of investment and maintenance in these areas has led to their deterioration. They are in need of building renovations, updated playground equipment, improved ballfields and basketball courts, pool repairs, new sidewalks and groundskeeping, and more. Without a sizeable investment, these centers cannot be reopened, and our communities are left wanting for safe recreational spaces. Research finds that well-designed and -maintained urban parks can reduce gun violence, improve safety, and keep residents healthier, while poorly designed and -maintained parks lead to more crime. More time spent in parks and green spaces can also help individuals fight against mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and stress.

That is why we are proposing to direct $500 million of American Rescue Plan dollars to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to help fund the infrastructure needs of local parks and recreation centers. At a time where our communities are turning to our public spaces for support during hardship, our Commonwealth has a responsibility to ensure those spaces are well-supported and well-maintained.  It is time to reopen and reinvest in healthy parks and healthy communities.

Introduced as HB2508