Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: City Backs Recreation

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: City Backs Recreation

Article excerpt

When people think of parks, they think of fields, trees and shrubs, a green oasis in an urban area of concrete and tall buildings or a place for recreation, picnics and fishing.

Here, in Louisville, we are fortunate enough to have a park system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The parks, connected by tree-lined parkways, encircle our city. We call them Louisville's emerald necklace and truly they are jewels for the residents of our urban neighborhoods.

But like all major cities, our demographics have changed considerably since the era when Olmsted designed our park system. Today our city's residents are older and there is a greater frequency of low income families than in previous years.

Today, city residents worry about job security, crime and drugs and the children--how to educate them, how to keep them safe and how to deter them from the lure of drugs, gangs and the crime these pitfalls generate.

In light of the changing urban demographics, I believe that the role of the parks must evolve to meet our changing concerns. I believe that our parks and recreation department can play a vital role in our mission to educate and protect our children, and prevent them from turning to drugs, gangs and crime. Teenagers today need a healthy alternative to hanging out in the streets. And unfortunately, too few alternative are provided.

That is why I've chosen to invest in parks and recreation services. With this strong belief, we were able to put $1.73 million of a $4 million one-time state rebate--based on an incorrect calculation of costs for services--into our city's community centers and recreation programs. We intend to use a portion of the money to provide "teen rooms" and teen programs at all of our community centers. These rooms will provide a place for young people to watch TV, listen to music, play games and participate in programs--in short to hang out at a place where parents can be reassured that drugs and alcohol are not present.

In today's economy, when both parents must work to make ends meet, an abundance of unsupervised free time is one of the major factors that lead teens into trouble. We can help fill that free time in a supervised place with activities teens enjoy.

At the same time, today's hi-tech world puts many children from low income families at a disadvantage. Often their parents cannot afford the computers that more affluent parents can provide their children. By understanding computer technology, today's teens are better prepared for the future job market.

To help fill that void, our community centers will also be equipped with computers to provide them access to today's technology, as well as a "homework helper" program that ensures that they get their homework done. …

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