Most of us value parks for their beauty and tranquility. But a recent study by Kansas University business students found that for Kansas parks, residents might want to add smart economic investment to the list.
KU’s Jayhawk Consulting group found that for every $1 invested in parks and recreation, there is a $1.70 return.
The study was commissioned by the Kansas Recreation and Park Association, a nonprofit group that wanted to take a look at the value of green space in Kansas.
“We’ve always felt that they are an essential service to our communities. This gives us supporting data that it has an economic value,” said Doug Vance, who is the executive director for the Kansas Recreation and Park Association.
Students found that for every $1 spent on programs, facilities, activities and employees, $1.70 was returned to the economy. They worked off a model that is frequently used by other state agencies.
Vance said the Kansas Recreation and Park Association is already using the data in an effort to convince lawmakers to invest more in parks and recreation. He was meeting with groups in Washington, D.C., this week where he presented the findings.
“It’s a good resource. You have to — as an industry, as an organization — explain the economic value in today’s economic times,” Vance said.
The research also showed that real estate values go up in Kansas for property owners who live near green space. In different cities throughout Kansas, the students looked at housing prices for homes next to a park, a mile away and three miles away.
“What we found is a direct correlation on housing value and proximity to parks,” said Wally Meyer, director of Entrepreneurship Programs at KU’s School of Business. “The closer you are to a park, the higher the value of homes.”
Even without the boost to the economy, the study found that parks and recreation provides healthy benefits. According to surveys, 73 percent of Kansas residents use recreation and park services at least once a week, and 60 percent factored in the lower cost when using the facilities.
Exercise was given as the No. 1 reason for using parks and recreation. Without the facilities, 31 percent of those surveyed said they would do nothing and 66 percent said they would find a substitute program that would cost more.