Editors Note: This column is the second in a series of four that will review the history, benefits and value of Alameda parks and recreation and how they positively serve our community.

It has been said that "the road to success is always under construction." This phrase relates well to Alameda Recreation and Park's efforts to continually develop open space parks and improve the programs that use them. It also relates well to our responsibility as a community, which is it to continue to support our parks and sustain its longevity today and well into the future. Maintaining Alameda's quality of life goes hand-in-glove with our parks system.

Public parks have been referred to as the "lungs of a community." The more parks and open space we provide, the healthier the community, directly and indirectly.

A nationwide study of the value of parks conducted at Pennsylvania State University compiled a list of benefits that Americans feel recreation and park services provide. They broke the study into two groups: users of local recreation and park services and those who do not use the services. The users communicated the value of their recreation and parks services as follows:

  • personal (i.e. exercise, fitness, fun, relaxation, health and education);

  • social (i.e. meeting people, group engagements, team spirit, and community support);

  • facilities (i.e. a place for recreation, crafts, watching organized sports, joy of playing, and instructional classes);

  • environmental (i.e. experiencing nature, fresh air, getting outdoors, hearing the sounds of nature); and

  • economic (affordable activities, can experience what my tax dollars pay for).

    The same Penn State study found that 75 percent of the nonusers of parks said that they received benefits from their community parks. The study found that real estate value improved when parks were present. Rich Krinks of Harbor Bay Realty in Alameda stated "parks bring great value to our community and are influential in the buying decisions by homebuyers and commercial businesses." He went on to say that, "without parks, we become a weaker community."

    Barbara Bolton, also of Harbor Bay Realty, added: "Parks improve the Alameda tax base and increase property value. Schools and transportation are the only other issues that homebuyers ask about in large numbers."

    Property that is located near parks has been proven to be worth more. Parks and open space create a high quality of life that attracts taxpaying businesses and homebuyers. Open space helps communities like ours to develop responsibly and maintain a positive balance between residential and business development with open space and parks. The city's newest Beltline property development (i.e. Jean Sweeney Open Space Park) is a wonderful example of supporting that balance. It will offer unprecedented scale of property located between residential and business parks and easy accessibility to nature.

    The restoration of the historical railroad building currently taking place on the Beltline property is another positive example of how the community is engaged with open space. Barbara Rasmussen and her volunteer group are working hard at restoring the building into its original condition with supplies donated from local businesses like the Jaber family of Encinal Hardware.

    Alameda offers a quality of life that is unique to the Bay Area. Sustaining our parks and recreation programs are becoming increasingly more important. Like other cities, the available budget for our parks has been reduced significantly over the past few years. Those budget cuts impact after school programs, summer programs and other activities we have all become accustomed to. All of us in Alameda must support our parks by donating to park support groups like Friends of the Parks Foundation.

    Reminders and important information: Remember to attend the Starlight Movies in the Parks, starting at 6:30 p.m. June 21 at Alameda Point Multi Purpose Field. The movie that evening will be "The Lorax."

    Also, don't forget the "Play for the Parks" fundraising golf tournament on the north course of the Chuck Corica Golf Complex on Sept. 25. Golf, food and fun! Visit Friends of the Parks Foundation Facebook page for information.

    Volunteers are always needed. Consider volunteering or donating to the Friends of the Parks Foundation. The organization supports our parks and the wellness of our community. Visit the website at www.alamedaparks.org. Or visit the Facebook page.

    For more information on recreation and parks programs, visit www.cityofalameda.gov or call 510-747-7529.

    Bill Delaney is the board president for the Friends of the Parks Foundation, and vice chair of the Alameda Recreation and Park Commission. If you have any questions or comments, please send Bill a message via bdelaneyca@yahoo.com.