Parks · Sustainable Communities

The Importance of Parks in Sustainable Communities

We’re interested in knowing how you think your community does or could benefit from parks.  The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources discusses the benefits of parks to sustainable communities.  They note that community parks are correlated with better health, less crime, greater social connections, and even increased test scores for school children.  In addition, the benefits to the environment include a greater diversity of vegetation, flood control, air pollution filtration, and more available habitat (Sprajcar 2007).

The park around Children’s Lake in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania is an excellent example of a park that contributes greatly to the sustainable nature of the community.  The entire identity of Boiling Springs is centered around the lake and associated recreation.   Children’s Lake has been a recreational attraction for well over 100 years.  In the late nineteenth century, it was a day resort with amusement rides, canoe rentals, and a “Lover’s Walk.”  A trolley line ran for the 17 miles from Harrisburg to bring people to the lake for the day.  Today the Appalachian Trail is located along Children’s Lake and the Mid-Atlantic Appalachian Trail Conservancy is located on the lake.  On any given day, you can find hikers, locals walking their dogs and playing with their children, and tourists visiting from the region.

We’re interested in hearing about the places that are special to you and how parks play a part in the sustainable nature of these places.  Some of my favorite pictures of Children’s Lake are below, and additional pictures can be found on my Facebook page.


Sprajcar, Jessica

2007    Creating Sustainable Community Parks:  A Guide to Improving Quality of Life by Protecting Natural Resources.  Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Harrisburg, PA.



2 thoughts on “The Importance of Parks in Sustainable Communities

  1. Hi Barbara,

    I really enjoyed your post and appreciate what your experience brings to the table. I had not thought about the past history of public engagement, but it is interesting to show the change in public engagement and the increased transparency through the use of public engagement. Especially with current politics seeming less transparent year by year, it is nice to see how the government has used public engagement over time to become more of an active partner with the public. It is also reassuring to hear you say that government agencies do take public feedback into account.

    You experience in dealing with the “loud voices” is particularly interesting. I’m happy to hear that you think social media has created a platform for those who are too intimidated to speak in person. I have often thought that social media increases the loud voices because it gives them a position or box to stand on. I do agree with you that social media can provide more opportunity to speak but it is very important to integrate with traditional means for the reasons you mentioned such as age discrimination.



  2. Thanks, Rachel. I do think the loud voices works both ways. I have been to many public meetings where one or a couple of people have dominated. One of the ground rules we usually outline at the beginning of a public meeting (we generally give a list of ground rules for behavior – cell phones off, don’t interrupt, etc.) is the Rule of Three, which is that if you have spoken three times in a row, then you shouldn’t comment so that you can let someone else speak. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. And as I mentioned in my post, sometimes people are afraid to disagree with their neighbors publicly. They might be afraid of repercussions such as damaged relationships or being blamed for the outcome of a project. I appreciate your comments!


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