Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Greg A. Weitzel

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Greg A. Weitzel

Article excerpt


The responsibility of educating legislators

Greg A. Weitzel's career as a park and recreation administrator has spanned more than 20 years-and in that time he has been awarded more than $15 million in federal, state, county, local, corporate, and foundation grants. The projects funded with those millions have ranged from master plans for multi-generational destination parks, to sustainable park and building design, to greenway and rail trail construction. When Weitzel, who currently heads Allentown, Pennsylvania's, parks and recreation department, echoes the well-known saying that "all politics is local," he speaks from hard-won advocacy experience. Weitzel's work as an NRPA volunteer influencing federal policy has led him to a critical insight: Park professionals are uniquely positioned to know what state and federal lawmakers' constituents want. Those who find public policy and advocacy work intimidating, he insists, should remember that they represent a brain trust of expertise on American parks, recreation, and conservation. That brain trust is one our legislators sorely need, Weitzel insists- and it has the potential to shape the future of parks in this country.

Could you describe the public policy work you have done as a volunteer working alongside NRPA?

Over the last decade, I've worked closely with NRPA's great staff of public policy professionals to advocate for full and dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund-especially the state assistance program. And I've lobbied for transportation enhancements like bike and pedestrian trails and programs such as Safe Routes to School. I'm also a big supporter of the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act, the No Child Left Inside Act, and was honored to work on President Obama's America's Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative.

However, my advocacy for parks, recreation and conservation began at an early age in Lititz, Pennsylvania. I remember that our old recreation center was in very poor condition. Serving as a student leader, I worked with the mayor and city council to help build a new center. I'm sure they remember me strongly encouraging them to build a bigger pool and provide more gym space!

After many years of service, I was recently nominated to serve as chairman of the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society Governmental Affairs Committee (GAC). …

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