Everyone deserves a park within a 10-minute walk from home. Parks are an essential element of urban life, providing residents with a safe place to exercise, socialize, or just unwind. Green spaces beautify and cool neighborhoods and improve the overall quality of life for all.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL), National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), and Urban Land Institute (ULI) launched the 10-Minute Walk to a Park Campaign earlier this month, with 134 mayors from around the world signing up to join the campaign. Thanks to Mayor Bronin, Hartford has joined this effort in supporting equitable access to parks.
The campaign recognizes parks as essential urban infrastructure, providing an unparalleled range of health, economic and environmental benefits. They help manage flooding and stormwater and reduce the urban heat island effect. They invite healthy forms of transportation such as biking or walking, reducing the environmental impacts of cars. They improve economic conditions by boosting local businesses and property values. They build community, revitalize neighborhoods, and have been linked to reductions in violence.
Hartford has a rich history of municipal parks and green spaces. According to a 2009 study by the Cultural Landscape Foundation, Hartford is the site of the first municipal park (Bushnell Park, 1854). It also boasts the country’s first municipal rose garden (Elizabeth Park, 1904). The city’s park system benefited from decades of involvement by all three members of the Olmsted family, whose influence is still seen in many of parks including the 693-acre Keney Park. Keney Park was completed in 1896 and remains one of the largest municipal open spaces in New England. Its municipal golf course was fully renovated and recently reopened.
Many of Hartford’s parks benefit from active friends’ groups, run by dedicated volunteers who are committed to the health and sustainability of their local parks. These groups are essential to ensuring that our parks meet the needs of their communities.
Ongoing challenges include funding and maintenance needs to sustain this legacy and ensure that residents have access to safe, well-maintained parks in their neighborhoods. We support the goals of the 10-Minute Walk to a Park campaign, advancing innovations in financing and construction and improved access for all. We are proud to join with 134 cities around the world to recognize and celebrate our amazing and vital local parks.
Photo: Beaver Dam at Keney Park