Thursday, September 02, 2010

Parkway Editorial

The editorial from the Sacramento Bee today was a good recapping of the problems facing the Parkway, but unfortunately, the only solution presented is to increase taxes, when there are much better ways to help parks.

Nonprofit management, like Central Park in New York and Pittsburgh Parks; and parks privatization—which while a relatively new movement is growing, as attested by the private company Recreation Resource Management.

Nonprofit management—which we suggest as a strategy for the Parkway—and parks privatization in general, are both good solutions for over-strapped governments that are much more equitable than increasing taxes on an already over-taxed public.

An excerpt from the editorial.

“If you are a cyclist, runner, dog walker, bird watcher, picnicker or kayaker who lives within proximity of the American River, there is an easy answer to the question: What is the best thing about living in Sacramento County?

“For many outdoor enthusiasts, the American River Parkway is their pride and joy and a big reason they were attracted to Sacramento in the first place. Where else can you find a river parkway that stretches 23 miles through multiple growing communities and offers such an expanse of recreation and natural beauty?

“Yet the American River Parkway has a problem. Although its fans are spread far and wide, many of them are so dedicated to their individual leisure that they've overlooked what is happening to the parkway and the rest of the regional parks system.

“How else could you explain the fact that county supervisors, over the years, have steadily decreased support for the parkway and other parks? Why have supervisors been allowed to permit new houses and mansions that loom over scenic parts of the parkway?

“Why have they approved reductions in ranger staffing that only add to concerns about safety along the parkway? Why haven't supervisors advocated for a dedicated funding stream for the parkway and other county parks, such as that which voters approved for the East Bay Regional Parks District?...

“The American River Parkway is the product of an era when people put a high value on regional parks free and open to all. Increasingly, this notion of open access is being lost. As it spirals into a fiscal abyss, the county is considering proposals to transfer Gibson Ranch to an outside operator, including possibly a for-profit company. In any discussion of parks, county supervisors talk about ways to make "users" pay, as if park visitors were the only beneficiaries of places such as the American River Parkway.

“As of 2009, the American River Parkway was attracting an estimated 8 million visitors yearly. A 2006 study concluded it generated more than $300 million yearly for the local economy. Given the multiple benefits to Sacramento and its way of life, is it too much to ask that this parkway be properly managed and maintained?”