Economic Benefits of Parks & Rec, Program Open Space, and Synthetic Turf at #MACoCon

A full audience of attendees to the MACo January 2019 Winter Conference learned about importance and benefits of county parks and recreation departments, Program Open Space, and some of the benefits and issues surrounding synthetic turf fields. The panel, More Than a TV Show: The Real Issues of “Parks and Recreation”, was held on Thursday, January 3.

Maryland Association of County Park and Recreation Administrators President and Harford County Parks and Recreation Director Kathleen Burley discussed the quality of life and health benefits that parks and recreation services bring to a county. Burley stressed how parks and recreation can contribute revenue by becoming tourist destinations or tournament venues. Burley also showed the important role that parks and recreation can play in economic development, including attracting major companies and businesses.

Partners for Open Space Director Ann Jones described Program Open Space and other land preservation programs. Jones noted how the Program can be used to fund both land acquisition and the construction of recreational facilities. Jones also walked through the history of the Program’s state funding stressed the importance of keeping the Program fully funded for the 2019 Session.

Finally, Howard County Bureau Chief of Capital Project, Park Planning and Construction Raul Delerme discussed the County’s positive history with using synthetic turf for high-usage athletic fields. Since 2005, Howard County has installed 24 multi-purpose and 2 baseball synthetic turf fields. Delerme walked through the economic benefits and costs of installing and maintaining a synthetic turf field, its expected usage and lifespan, and stormwater runoff and drainage considerations. Delerme also responded to audience questions about heat loading, injury prevalence, and alleged health concerns regarding synthetic turf fields.

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp moderated the panel.