Benefits & Issues: Economics

Parks, greenspaces and trails strengthen our local economy:

  • The value of real property is enhanced and revenues are increased.
  • Infrastructure cost is less to develop and maintain parks and open space than residential developments, which can cost more than they produce in revenue.
  • Tourism creates jobs for our citizens and revenue for local business and government.
  • Our city will become a place to be, where retirees knowledge workers and business leaders want to live.
  • Protecting our watersheds and aquifer will save the community significant amounts of money otherwise needed for remediation from contaminated water and flash floods.
  • Parks and recreation support healthy lifestyles, better integrated communities, community identity and pride. Healthy employees are more productive and generally less expensive.
  • Trails are a unique, multi-purpose component of a community accessing, connecting and enhancing the park and greenspace experience while providing additional health, economic, transportation and environmental benefits.
  • Another resource: Trust for Public Lands, the economic benefits of parks and open space which can be dowloaded as a PDF file.

The value of real property is enhanced

  • Property value of lots near parks can increase 20%. (Crompton)
  • Park design and uses impact property values more than maximizing the amount of park edge that could potentially affect a greater number of properties. (Crompton)
  • Passive uses such as community greens, versus active uses such as baseball diamonds, yield higher relative property values.  (Crompton)

    Learn more at Community Open Space Partnership: Community Open Space Partnership

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Open space versus residential development

The American Farmland Trust conducted research in Hays county and discovered the following:

  • Residential lands do not provide enough tax revenues for the county, schools and special districts to cover the costs of public services.  For every $1.00 in tax revenue, $1.26 is required to provide services.
  • Hays county's farms, ranches and open lands generate three times more in tax revenues than they receive in public services, similar to the results of commercial and industrial development. For each dollar in revenue generated they only require about $ .33 in services. American Farmland Trust


  • Nature and cultural tourism in Texas yields 500,000 jobs, $623 million in local tax revenues and $2 billion in state tax revenues. One job was supported for every $78,085 spent on tourism. Nature-based tourism can be defined as responsible travel to natural areas, which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people.-Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Many private landowners in Texas currently derive substantial income from wildlife-associated recreation in the form of hunting and fishing on their private lands. Activities such as bird watching, photography, backpacking, horseback riding, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, and canoeing are increasingly popular as urban residents and visitors strive to connect with the outdoors. Landowners may cater to these activities to augment their agricultural based income. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Flood control

  • Central Texas, particularly along the Balcones Escarpment, has the highest probability of flash flooding in the United States.  Increasing impervious cover through development significantly increases the severity of flooding.  Protecting natural vegetation and geologic features that soak up or slow down run-off and preventing development in or near floodplains can dramatically reduce the impact of remediation on the local economy as well as save lives. (Caran, B. 1986, UT Press) University of Texas Library

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Water quality

  • Protecting the quality of instream and ground water can help our community avoid loss of tourism and expensive treatment and pipelines.
  • Natural area and open space conservation consistently ranked among the most important objectives of the Regional Water Quality Protection Plan for the Barton Springs Segment of the Edwards Aquifer and its Contributing Zone. Regional Water Quality Protection Plan
  • Natural vegetative cover is less likely to produce pollutants and more likely to filter non-point source pollutants whether rainwater enters aquifer recharge features or streambeds.  Environmental System Analysis, Inc.

A place to be

Retirees, "knowledge workers", and corporate locators like being in communities with good parks and recreational opportunities.

  • Retirees chose beauty, recreational opportunities and mild climate as the top three qualities considered in choosing where to retire (Miller, et al, 1994)
  • 100 retirees with an income of $40,000 moving into a community is similar to a new business spending $4 million annually.  They contribute significant capital to the local economy. (Crompton)
  • Retirees increase the tax base while demanding fewer services, particularly from schools. (Crompton)
  • Retirees offer human resources, which significantly impacts comparable wage calculations. Seniors have a wealth of experience and many have time to volunteer for local projects and programs.
  • Based on local experience, retirees make important policy contributions.  
  • Online knowledge workers have more flexibility in where they live and often choose areas with good outdoor recreational activities. 
  • Quality of life in a community increases the attractiveness of a job by 33%.   American Planning Association, City Parks Forum
  • Quality of life for employees was the third most important factor in locating a business after access to domestic markets and availability of skilled labor according to an annual survey of CEOs conducted by Cushman and Wakefield in 1989. National Park Service National Parks Service
  • One aspect of quality of life is access to natural settings, recreational and cultural opportunities, and open space. National Park Service, National Parks Service
  • The Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress reports that a city's quality of life is more important than purely business-related factors when it comes to attracting new businesses, particularly in the rapidly growing high-tech and service industries (Scenic America,1987).

Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Employees

  • Parks and recreation support healthy lifestyles. Healthy employees are more productive and less expensive in terms of health related costs.  National Parks Service, National Parks Service
  • Beautiful parks, natural areas and cultural heritage amenities can support community identity and pride particularly when the amenities are a regional attraction.  This can help keep residents in their community to spend recreation dollars and can enhance human resources for community activities. Parks and Recreation Federation of Ontario, 1992, Parks and Recreation Ontario


  • Trails are transportation and recreational amenities to our community.  Many of the reasons to support parks and greenspaces noted above relate directly to trails which serve to provide access to and interconnect parks and greenspaces.  Trails can also provide some relief from automobile traffic congestion, particularly in a university town, by interconnecting trails with the bicycle, pedestrian and street infrastructure.  An excellent source of information for understanding all the benefits, of trails is provided at: American Trails

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