Why parks are good for our community

Published 7:49 pm Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The summer is winding down and so is construction on Southbend Park in downtown LaGrange.

The park will most likely prove to be a fantastic amenity to LaGrange residents and visitors. It will feature a dog park — like the one residents campaigned heavily for a few years ago — and open space for picnics and recreation. It will also offer a much needed playground to residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the park. 

Granger Park’s playground and the Shuford Field playground seem to be full of local children every weekend and most weekdays, so it is likely that a new park will receive a similar reception. 

The new park is also set to feature part of The Thread. Most of that section is already poured and waiting for finishing touches, but it probably won’t connect to the larger trail for a while yet. The small segment will however provide another opportunity for local children to ride bikes safely away from the road and families to walk. Despite its location less than 2 miles from Granger Park and about 2 miles from Callumet Park with LaGrange’s increasingly busy downtown, the short distance could mean extra time for those activities. 

The space may be a game changer for some families on that side of downtown. As any parent who has tried to teach a child how to ride a bike without training wheels can attest, an extra 10 minutes and an extra 10 yards of concrete away from the road can make the difference between a failed attempt and glorious success. That time and accomplishment are something that we look forward to seeing more of — even in small ways — in LaGrange.

Local adults will also benefit from another park as well. Numerous studies have shown that parks increase property values because of the simple fact that people are willing to pay a little more to live near a park. That increase is in addition to the increased property values that will likely result from The Thread Trail, which like the Atlanta Beltline and the Carrolton Greenbelt, is expected to improve property values in neighborhoods surrounding the trail.

As if those weren’t enough reasons to be excited, the Centers for Disease Control reports that parks and trails can improve health in communities through increased physical activity, improved mental health, community interaction, reduction of injury and environmental benefits. 

It also noted that, “People who are exposed to the greenest environments also have the lowest levels of health inequality among low-income households. Physical environments, like parks and trails, that promote good health might be important to reduce socioeconomic health inequalities.”

That is good news for LaGrange, and that is without touching on the impact of the new skate plaza — which according to the National Recreation  and Park Association could promote active lifestyles in a safe setting while providing an economic benefit to the community — but, we will save that for another day.