It is widely accepted that parks and recreation departments play an important role in promoting health and connecting communities. Thousands of diverse individuals benefit personally from local parks and recreation departments through the use of recreation programs, camps, open spaces for practices, games and events, or just to enjoy nature.
Beyond these critical contributions, parks and recreation departments are a source of significant economic activity and often a critical representation of a city’s economic status. The quality of parks and recreation is cited as one of the top three reasons that businesses cite in relocation decisions in a number of studies[i]. In 2013, the National Recreation and Parks Association conducted a study on the direct, indirect and induced effects of parks and recreation spending on local economic activity which included spending on capital improvement projects, equipment, utilities, goods and services. In the state of Connecticut, local parks and recreation departments were responsible 1.1 billion dollars in economic activity and 417 million dollars in labor income.[ii]
Bristol’s own thriving parks and recreation department contributes significantly to the economic development of the City. The capital improvement projects such as the recent 2.8 million Muzzy Field renovation project that involved local business for everything from brick and mortar, to electrical and plumbing. In recent years, Bristol Parks and Recreation Department also contracted other local business for improvement on Memorial Boulevard as well as a number of other park renovations. Parks and Recreation also supports small local business on a regular basis for supplies and contract services.
The parks and recreation department also employs over 120 part-time and seasonal employees offering many teenagers and college students their first introduction to the workforce. Bristol’s Parks and Recreation Department is a shining example of how investing in public parks and community programs is an investment in a bright future.
Jess Petroka is the Recreation Coordinator with the City of Bristol’s Parks and Recreation Department.
 National Recreation & Parks Association. (2010, January). Why Parks and Recreation are Essential Public Services https://www.nrpa.org/uploadedFiles/nrpa.org/Advocacy/Resources/Parks-Recreation-Essential-Public-Services-January-2010.pdf
National Recreation & Parks Association. (2015). The Economic Impact of Local Parks. http://www.nrpa.org/publications-research/research-papers/the-economic-impact-of-local-parks/