Strategies to Address Preservation of Parks and Open Lands
The projected population and development increases that will take place in the northeastern Illinois region might be the greatest threat to the provision of Parks and Open Lands. This will result in increases in land prices which might pose an additional hurdle to the acquisition of open space. In addition, the changing demographic patterns will necessitate a shift in the approach to determining the needs of open space users.
There are various measures that the Northeastern Illinois region can undertake to insure the preservation of parks and open lands for its growing communities. These measures can be adopted at various levels, ranging from the regional to the neighborhood levels.
The state of Illinois has provided funding for the acquisition and management of parks and open lands through various programs. Due to budgetary cuts, these programs have not enabled sizable increases in open space during recent years. Reinstating this funding for open lands would insure that the state would continue to meet the need for open space that arises from an ever increasing population.
Through a regional agency like CMAP, parks and open lands preservation organizations in the area can agree to adopt a unified plan that addresses the needs of the region as a whole as well as the various localities. Together, these bodies can collaborate in achieving their goals and insuring the sustainability of their efforts.
County and Local Initiatives
Forest Preserve, Conservation Districts, Park Districts, and municipalities that provide park services in the region have been successful in gaining funding through referenda for better provision of parks and open lands. This serves dual purposes, gaining funding for open space while gauging public interest and support for these lands. This approach should continue as it has proven its success. Districts should insure that their facilities are well maintained and welcoming to the public. Additionally, these districts should consider conducting a Needs Assessment to evaluate their current status in terms of provision of parks and open lands as well as assess the needs of their population and region for additional amenities. Such studies are excellent ways to engage the public and to gather information and anecdotal evidence of how a community's satisfaction with existing facilities and the willingness to fund needed improvements (Barth, 2008).
The above are general strategies that will be detailed further in the GO TO 2040 plan and designed to accommodate specific community needs and situations.
What do you think is the most effective method that governing bodies can undertake to insure adequate provision of parks and open lands?