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Illinois Parks & Recreation
November / December 1995 • Volume 26, Number 6

Satisfy those Cravings
by Ann M. Londrigan

While scanning the latest American Demographics, learning about the next Baby Boom (just 5 million shy of the 77 million expected when the millennium strikes midnight), discovering that 54 percent of adults satisfy their candy cravings on a daily basis and other juicy stats, something truly delicious caught my eye that surely caught yours too:

Urgan residents crave parks and open spaces, and they don't mind paying for them.

According to a study conducted by the Regional Plan Association, more parks and open space increase residents' satisfaction with a community. (Okay. we know this!) But the study backs it up with statistics like 43 percent of residents across five U.S. metropolitan areas cite lack of greenery and open space as the number one factor for dissatisfaction with their communities. Thirty percent say they favor specialty taxes or user fees to pay for parks and open spaces—not relying on property or income taxes, but a special tax to preserve land for parks.

That's a concept we in this area call the Illinois Park District System—the nationwide leader in providing our communties with exceptional parks, open space, recreational facilities and programs, and treasures like a carousel. Just take a look on page 57 at the long list of national awards that testify to this statement.

Parks and open space make a community, but it takes dollars and common sense to secure these assets.

Most rural communities—without a park district or much of an economy beyond mighty acreage—suffer this loss. Read pages 42-45 about several fortunate rural towns that experienced the joy of organized play this past summer thanks to the Illinois Rural Recreation Development Project. One satisfied parent from tiny Greenup, Illinois, said about the program, "If we don't keep our kids happy, they're going to leave. And that's how small towns die."

Parks, open space and recreation can't be budgetary afterthoughts. Not if we want happy residents, healthy families and a high quality of life in our communities—rural, suburban or metro.

Caught mid-drip, winter icicles shimmer and melt in the afternoon sun. David Blanchette, Springfield professional photographer, took this shot using a Nikon F4S camera, 70-210mm f2.8 lens and a polarizing filter.

4 * Illinois Parks & Recreation * November/December 1995

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