July is designated as National Parks & Recreation Month. This is an annual designation, but since many things seem to change annually and I wanted to bring some of the following facts to the attention of our local residents.

July is designated as National Parks & Recreation Month. This is an annual designation, but since many things seem to change annually and I wanted to bring some of the following facts to the attention of our local residents.

Some of the benefits of your local parks are: (1) enhancing quality of life, (2) attracting and retaining business, (3) enhancing real estate values, (4) protecting the environment, (5) preventing youth crime/promoting youth development, (6) facilitating community pride, connectedness & social capital and (7) individual and community health such as stress relief, spiritual restoration, reduced pollution, flood control and physical activity.

According to the study entitled, “Urban Parks: Contributions to Physical Activity” conducted in park systems in Tampa, Fla., Chicago, Kansas City and Los Angeles, the following summary and recommendations resulted: (1)parks are important settings for physical activity, however, many visitors are still sedentary, (2) park proximity to users is important, but so is the design of the park; (3) more active facilities and amenities equates to more park-based physical activity, (4) park visitors’ physical activity is also influenced by a variety of social-psychological factors, (5) in many communities, parks, and the amenities within them, are not equitably distributed, (6) pay attention to both provision and promotion of parks and park facilities and (7) advocacy for parks requires the development of a community stakeholder park audit tool.

According to a Los Angeles Parks and Recreation study: “Research shows that access to parks is essential for sustaining both healthy people and healthy communities. Combatting the nation’s growing obesity problem however may require more than greater access alone.” Studies consistently show that easy access to equipment and facilities increases frequency and intensity of exercise, and people are more likely to exercise when in groups or social environments.

Our own study being conducted by BS-FIT shows that our residents use our trails for fitness, and those who do not, currently, indicated they might if the more trails are provided and are near their residence.

Another indication of the importance of our park system is directional indicators coming out of the first three meetings of the “Let’s Move” initiative, which started this past spring. The top project was to work toward a “Complete Streets” program that requires all Blue Springs streets and roads be designed for all forms or methods of transportation to include walking and biking.  

I will be holding three public hearings later this summer to secure the public’s opinions and priorities on the next phase of our bike route and pedestrian trail plans. We want to begin to make connections internally to Independence and Grain Valley. I hope you can attend and give me your thoughts. If not, contact me at rrighter@bluespringsgov.com with your opinions.

We encourage you to get out and into your local park system. Participate in a program, event, a league or perhaps a special event. See the Fourth of July fireworks, hit the pool, try out the disc golf course or a trail. See you in the parks.