Senator Townsend's taking Chair of the Senate Health, Children, & Social Services committee in 2017 is, once again, hypocrisy at its absolute worst. In this case, Mr Townsend denied a clear, common sense remedy by refusing to champion place-making, green space and a regional park right in his own District 11. An entire region of New Castle County has now lost that opportunity forever, with only more traffic congestion (and road rage) to show for it.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control, the effects of the community design choices we make and the opportunities those choices afford or deny us are only just now beginning to be understood. Such effects not only can influence community members’ physical health but their mental health as well. Effects on mental health can include both increased stress and cognitive impairment, which in turn can have physical health implications. Some of this increased stress can be caused by long and taxing daily commutes necessitated by development patterns that separate our work or school locations from our homes. This increased commuting-related stress may be related to the perceived increases in the rates of “road rage.”
- Researchers have discovered that when some people who are injured or ill are exposed to open, undeveloped land, also known as green space, they recover faster than others who were not exposed. In another study, researchers examined the cognitive functions of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to determine the effect that the children’s surroundings had on learning and their ability to concentrate. The researchers found that exposure to parks and other green spaces improved the children’s ability to focus and concentrate.
- Residents of neighborhoods that lack park and recreation facilities are more likely to exhibit health disparities. Increasing park acreage and facilities per capita and improving access to existing parks are important ways to support physical activity.
- Parks and open space outside of cities produce economic benefits as well. Parks attract non-resident visitors who put new dollars into local economies. Proximity to parks and open space enhances the value of residential properties and produces increased tax revenues for communities. Open space captures precipitation, reduces stormwater management costs, and by protecting underground water sources, open space can reduce the cost of drinking water up to ten-fold. Trees and shrubs reduce air pollution control costs. And of course, there is the value to human communities of protecting the habitats of wild creatures who live near us.