Local parks are areas of open grounds provided for leisure and can either be in a natural or semi-natural state. Besides being set aside for recreational purposes for people, they are also used for wildlife protection by preserving the natural habitat in which they thrive. They are often regarded as sanctuaries due to the green scenery accosted to it that gives a peaceful ambiance conducive for family bonding or for lone meditation. Local parks play a vital role in the everyday lives of common Americans and the creation of parks within urban areas aims at providing as natural an environment as possible that can enable one to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Local parks were used by families to get relaxed from all tensions and also to spend some time together. There was a time when parks were the best place for children and also for parents to engage in riding, boat paddling, fishing, and swimming. As children during those times became adults, they used to enjoy their time in parks like Raven Run where they could hike, walk, or run in the arboretum. Local parks provided fun, recreational, educational, and lifetime memories for families and generations of those families at a very little fee. Entertainment facilities in parks enabled children and parents to have fun during their family time.
The situation has changed drastically today. Local parks, which were considered a paradise for children and families to have fun, play, and learn, are now becoming places of avoidance and neglect. Visits to local parks have drastically reduced in recent years. Parents no longer take their children to local parks to swim, fish, ride, and make paddle boats. What is more, the number of grown-up children who used to hike, walk, or run in the arboretum of parks no longer visit the place. This is happening regardless of low entry fees.
Presently, local authorities and people are ignoring the recreational benefits of local parks. In the past, local parks were heaven for children because they could have fun in their every nook and cranny. They loved to play in parks and they were unwilling to return to their homes even after the sunset. Unfortunately, all that is left in these parks now is outdated recreational equipment that cannot be used or can even be dangerous for children. Giant trees that created shade for people are now being destroyed by Emerald Ash Borer’s infestation and thus local parks are slowly losing their sentimental value.
The main problems faced by local parks are highlighted in Figure 1 included in the appendix and may result in their complete extinction. A few are highlighted below:
- Construction of places of relaxation like malls, theatres, dance bars, etc; Fig 2. (Walls, 2009) due to higher interest from the part of local government in creating such places for leisure.
- Less attention from authorities related to a weakening of local parks especially due to lack of staff to work in the parks.
- Pollution of local parks. Visitors of local parks carry food items. After consumption, they usually dump packages and other waste in the park, causing pollution. Such things present actual danger because they do not allow keeping the territory of parks clean.
- Local authorities are neglecting the situation with trees in local parks, which used to provide shade for picnics. Now, these trees are being destroyed by Emerald Ash Borer’s infestation.
- Gradual wrecking of local parks by gangs has significantly affected families who love to spend time enjoying the serenity of parks and those, who love to engage in fun outdoor activities. As the quality of local parks has declined at a fast rate, families are now forced to spend time in noisy malls or restaurants.
Local parks can be saved from being wiped out by taking few measures, which are listed below:
- Government should allocate more funds in order to keep parks attractive and running; Raise funds for the rehabilitation and maintenance of local parks. This helps redeem the glory of local parks. The local government can directly solicit funds from voters given a rise in the local referenda directed towards conservation, recreation, and open space.
- Improve advocacy and fund outsourcing by non- governmental groups interested preservation of local parks thus avoiding dependence on government funding.
- Conduct fund-raising campaigns by tree boards and foundations to raise funds to treat trees and preserve the beauty of parks. These interventions of tree boards and other foundations result in an increased number of visitors. This can increase earnings for local authorities. This will see towards the utilization of required pesticides to save unaffected trees from being infested. This can help avoid decimation to a large extent (National Park Service, 2009).
- Create rules to be followed by visitors of the park, and make sure that visitors are following them intact. Additionally, it is possible to impose penalties on those who violate these rules and regulations. This way, it is possible to maintain cleanliness and order in parks.
- Appoint efficient guards and fix cameras inside the park to watch activities of the visitors and also involve volunteers that can help people around the parks as well as avoid congestion by limiting the number of visitors at a certain time. Details regarding this can be advertised using TV and the press.
- The local government could allow students to conduct studies by interviewing the park’s users in a bid to find out which areas are slackening and need improvement. This will help in establishing how to handle different park users.
Parks are known to provide a serene environment for families during their outings. Giant trees and other beautiful infrastructures in parks make a perfect venue for picnics. Lifetime memories can be gained from such visits and activities. In addition, children learn a lot while engaging in outdoor activities. However, today the number of people visiting local parks has noticeably decreased. A sudden decrease in the number of people visiting local parks is attributed to their aging as well as dilapidated and outdated recreational equipment (Walls, 2009). As a consequence, families are resorted to spending their free time in noisy malls or restaurants, which are so different from parks with their serene environment.
Local or public parks help take an exciting break from a tedious week. Spending time in parks with family helps minimize stress and make one’s mind free from the boring routine of life. Parks, which are also known as recreation centers, have lots of benefits for local citizens. In addition, well-maintained parks attract tourists and thus contribute to the economic development of a region and also provide employment to many people. Local parks can be well-developed, which can be used to provide habitat for many endangered species.
Many assumptions and scenarios have been presented on how to overcome problems faced by local parks. Since kids and youths are major visitors of local parks, opening playgrounds, medical centers, and learning centers in parks is expected to improve the situation to great extent. To propose this development agenda, it should be designed and analyzed with comprehensive information regarding the area of specialization.
The environment of local parks should be well taken care of to attract people. Planting trees, which mature quickly and are easy to cultivate can make the scenery of parks more beautiful. Various kinds of recreation activities like sports, swimming classes among others need to be made available in parks in order to draw people’s attention. Implementing a change in the operation of local parks is challenging but necessary for improving the situation that prevails in local parks. A well-developed local park makes our locality more beautiful and also helps bring people together thus improving the relationship among human beings.
There is a need to popularize local parks in order for them to regain their glory and with the implementation of the above-suggested solutions to problems earlier stated, much can be achieved. The local government has to work collectively with the community in restoring the local parks to what they originally were.