New Report Proves Parks Pay in Seattle

March 18, 2011

Parks in Seattle add more than $500 million in value to the city and its residents, according to a study released today by The Trust for Public Land (TPL).

As the first study of its kind, the report considered seven major factors, including impact on property value, tourism, direct use by residents, health benefits, clean air, clean water, and improved cohesion and community.

"Parks increased the value of nearby residential properties by 1.6 billion dollars in 2010 - nearly 5% of the property value," said Mike Deller, TPL's Washington State Director. "This increased tax revenue to the city by more than $14.7 million."

These numbers are conservative, only taking into account those homes within 500 feet of parks that were over an acre in size. Stormwater retention and air pollution removal increases the value of parks to the city by another $2.8 million per year.

"Seattleites love their parks," said Deller. "Residents are not only willing to pay more to live closer to them, but will spend time and money keeping them up - which is calculated in this report as a community cohesion value of more than $9.5 million in 2009."

In addition, statistics show that parks attract tourists. Seattle's collective increase in wealth from park-based tourism was more than $30 million last year. Locals value their parks at saving them nearly $500 million a year in direct use value, calculated by values the residents themselves assigned to park activities. The active lifestyle that parks encourage gave an additional $64 million health value to Seattle parks, as determined by residents' physical activities and their frequencies.

"Parks give so much more to a city than a place to play," said Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation. "I'm excited to have a report that documents the many important values that every park in Seattle provides."

"This report couldn't come at a better time," said Thatcher Bailey, Executive Director of the Seattle Parks Foundation. "As we focus on the cost of parks to our economy, it's important to understand value they deliver in black and white."

Jerry Tone, treasurer of the Seattle Parks Foundation, President-elect of SPF and a member of TPL's national Board of Directors, added, "Time and time again, voters all across the country have consistently voted for parks and parks funding. This report details what a great investment voters have made."

A copy of the report is available here.

The report was authored by Peter Harnik and the staff of TPL's Center for City Park Excellence. The Center opened in 1994 to support the creation and rehabilitation of city park systems through research, data collection, evaluation, skill building, fundraising, garden and playground construction, and land purchases.

The Trust for Public Land is a national land conservation organization, which preserves land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways and wilderness areas. Founded in 1972, TPL has protected more than 2.9 million acres in 47 states. TPL depends on the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations.