Advocates from across the community showed up to speak about the importance of funding parks and greenways at the January 17 county budget hearing. Photo: Hope Wright
On Wednesday, January 17, ten park and greenway advocates joined our Advocacy Manager Hope Wright to speak at the Board of County Commissioners' budget public hearing. These incredible advocates showed up with stories about the ways green spaces improve their mental and spiritual health, their importance as safe transportation corridors, their intrinsic value as habitat, and one of the driving forces behind choosing to put down roots in our community. We are so proud and grateful for their time and dedication to our park and greenway network.
You can watch them address commissioners in this meeting recording and read Hope's statement below.
Good evening, Mecklenburg County Commissioners,
My name is Hope Wright and I am the advocacy manager for Sustain Charlotte.
First, I want to thank you for helping grow our park and recreation system by allocating $50M for land acquisition in each of the last two budget cycles. This is a triumph that the entire county will benefit from for years to come.
Let’s not lose that momentum! To build on these investments, this year I urge you to:
- Support all of the staff-recommended CIP FY2029 projects.
- Support funding for new staff positions as identified in the MeckPlaybook and requested by staff for FY2025.
- Sustain momentum for land acquisition by budgeting at least $50M but ideally $75M to increase land available for additional parks, greenways, nature preserves, and recreation centers.
- Increase funding for maintenance of Park and Recreation properties, both developed and undeveloped.
As our population continues to grow rapidly in Mecklenburg County, so does the need to expand and maintain greenways, parks, nature preserves, and recreation centers.
Due to underinvestment in the past, many residents have limited access to park and recreation opportunities.
In fact, in 2023, a study by The Trust for Public Land showed that only 38% of Mecklenburg County residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park. The median for the top 100 most populous U.S. cities is 74%. We must and can do better.
Increasing our investment in our park and recreation system will not only improve access for more residents but will also:
- Provide local job opportunities.
- Encourage active lifestyles and reduce health costs.
- Make our community more resilient by helping mitigate flooding.
- Help clean our air and reduce our contribution to the climate crisis.
- Increase community cohesion and help reduce crime.
- Improve quality of life and livability.
- Build community by providing gathering places for neighbors, families, and friends.
In short, the value of parks and recreation far outweighs the dollars invested.
Please continue to grow our investment so everyone in our community can enjoy these benefits. Thank you.
THANKS FOR READING!
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