Washington, DC (October 7, 2009)- Yesterday, Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) introduced H.R. 3734, the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act. This bill will rehabilitate and improve urban parks and recreational infrastructure and revitalize communities by increasing economic development, improving public health, increasing daily physical activity, reconnecting children with nature, reducing crime, and providing safe, healthy alternatives for at-risk youth. This bill will rehabilitate existing urban parks and recreation centers.
The bill goes to the heart of the collective thinking that emerged when Rep. Sires presented a draft two weeks earlier at NRPA’s Urban Park Summit in Washington, DC, during which the association brought together a select group of mayors, high ranking administration officials, Congressional leaders and urban park directors. In bringing together such key players, the NRPA built needed support for urban parks in the White House administration’s new urban policy plans while helping to secure Congressional and White House support for urban parks.
Three decades ago Congress established the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program (UPARR). The program, administered by the U.S. Department of Interior, sought to enhance and improve urban park and recreation facilities by providing direct federal assistance to eligible cities and urban counties. From its inception in 1978 until 2002, UPARR awarded nearly 1500 grants totaling roughly $272 million to jurisdictions throughout the country and U.S. territories. The program became a lifeline for countless city parks and made possible the creation of essential recreation facilities. However, even though the program still exists, it has been idled by a lack of funding. UPARR has not received a Congressional appropriation since 2002.
Today, communities are realizing that parks and trees are not just about esthetics. Successful greening endeavors in cities like Chicago and Philadelphia have been central to these cities’ resurgence in economic prosperity and population. In recognition of the stimulative impact of parks and urban greening, the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act has been introduced in the 111th Congress to reinvigorate the role of federal policy in promoting green infrastructure.
By extracting many of UPARR’s strong components, the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act aims to reinvent the role of federal policy in urban greening and recreation initiatives. Specifically, the bill establishes a grant program within HUD to provide Federal grants (that must be matched with local funds) to urban areas for the rehabilitation and/or creation of parks and recreational facilities. The four categories of grants-Rehabilitation, Innovation, At-Risk Youth Recreation, and Recovery Action Program- all aim to invest in community health and well being and foster economic recovery. Originally sponsored by Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ), the legislation has gained tremendous early support in the House.
H.R. 3734 emphasizes the fact that community greening initiatives are drivers of economic prosperity. To that end, the Alliance for Community Trees is working closely with a wide variety of stakeholders to educate lawmakers about the importance of greening and green infrastructure to the economic vitality of America’s cities and towns.
ACT is now working with NRPA to assemble a diverse coalition of organizations to advocate for this bill and secure additional co-sponsors.
Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act (H.R. 3724)
Sires Introduces Urban Park Legislation to Congress with Support from NRPA
National Recreation and Park Association
Landscape Design News
Joint Mayoral Letter of Support
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