Federal Funding of Urban Parks Could Help St. Louis


{the High Line Park in New York}

For the first time in eight years federal funding may become available to build and rebuild urban parks. The Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act may just be the beginning as a number of other bills promoting urban sustainability are being considered by Livable Communities Task Force. In St. Louis the big target for such funds may be the long-sought Chouteau Greenway. And this would be a worthy project, but more modest funding could transform or complete urban parks in The Grove, the Central West End and elsewhere.

Of course funding urban parks is not an entirely new federal endeavor. St. Louis has the federally funded Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (the Arch), a national park in an urban setting. The Urban Park and Recreation Recovery program was established in 1978 and was the legislative source of funding for many years. This program has received $0 since 2002. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is another source of support, but one that has never been funded to authorized levels. The Act ties urban parks to the hot topics of the day: “revitalizing communities, improving public health, reducing crime and promoting economic development.”

With 89 co-sponsors and bipartisan support, the latest effort appears to be headed for success. It may be time to dust off any master plans St. Louis has for its parks and ready applications. If funding were to be available to St. Louis, which parks should receive funding? Should more neighborhood “pocket parks” be created? If so, where? How else could funding be used to revitalize St. Louis?