Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Importance of Championing Your Work

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Importance of Championing Your Work

Article excerpt

Late last year, I traveled to the historic city of Clarksville, Tennessee, to attend Clarksville Parks and Recreation's ribbon-cutting ceremony for Valleybrook Park (https://tinyurl.com/ycfeas8x). The park, a short distance from downtown Clarksville on the banks of the Cumberland River, underwent a huge revitalization, including new playgrounds, restrooms and a pavilion, thanks to a $477,000 federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Resilience grant.

Longtime Clarksville residents shared with me that eight years ago, the spot where I was standing had been completely underwater - as was much of the state - during the 2010 Tennessee floods. By reopening this beautiful urban oasis, Clarksville is finally bringing this park back to life. The Director of Clarksville Parks and Recreation, Jennifer Letourneau, using the tools and resources from the NRPA Park Champion initiative (www.nrpa.org/our-work/advocacy/ park-champions/), invited federally elected and administration officials to the ribbon cutting to show them the value of investing in this community.

In attendance were the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Deputy Assistant Secretary of Economic Development Steven Rawlinson and Field Representative John Clement from Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn's office, along with Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan, Clarksville city councilmembers, local media and children from the nearby Tabernacle Christian School, who were quite excited to be the first to try out the new playgrounds.

The Valleybrook Park opening was the first time Deputy Assistant Secretary Rawlinson had visited a CDBG site. HUD handles the CDBG program at the executive level, so having the deputy assistant secretary attend the ribbon cutting allowed him to see first-hand how CDBG - a $3.3 billion program that provides more than $100 million in funding to local parks and recreation every year - is investing in a happier, healthier, more economically vibrant Clarksville. CDBG dollars were essential in allowing Clarksville to finally bring the park back to full capacity. The Trump administration, for the second year in a row, has targeted CDBG for elimination in the president's budget request, so it's critical to show members of Congress, administration officials, local officials and community members how important CDBG is to providing quality green space and recreation opportunities for everyone in communities across the country.

The argument behind fully funding CDBG is solid - for every $1 invested in CDBG, more than $3. …

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