A recent study [PDF] has determined that transformative investments in public parks increase surrounding property values and generate multiple economic benefits. The Indy Parks Economic Benefit Study, conducted by the IU Public Policy Institute, found that the total estimated economic value of parks programs and amenities in 2019 was $14.7 million.
From 2015-2019 Indy Parks’ spending added $235 million to the local economy, and supported 1,818 jobs both inside and outside of the organization. The analysis found that the economic impact of the entire Indy Parks and Recreation system was $106.8 million in 2019, stating, “Every dollar spent on Indy Parks generated $3.13 of benefit in the local economy.”
Other potential economic benefits of parks include healthcare cost savings; air pollution removal savings; stormwater retention savings; and business/talent attraction.
Of particular interest to Midtown residents is the study’s finding that properties closer to parks are valued higher than farther away. Of all parks in the system, Tarkington Park reported the highest property value increase. Residential properties within a quarter mile of Tarkington were assessed at $193,000, a 12% increase since 2016. The study attributed the increase to recent improvements to the park calling it, “Notably one of the most Innovative parks in Indy.”
Not all benefits are merely economic. During the pandemic, parks and trails were recognized as important elements of the community’s public health infrastructure. City parks are often one of the only access points to nature for those living in urban areas. According to the Children & Nature Network, time spent in nature has been shown to decrease negative thoughts in adults, reduce symptoms of ADHD in children, and improve cognitive development.