Parks Directors Discuss Funding Local Recreational Programs

At MACo’s Winter Conference, panelists discussed state and local programs to help fund parks and rec.  

Parks and recreation departments make neighborhoods more than just a place to live, they make them a place to call home.  But funding parks and recreation can be an expensive and, at times, confusing endeavor. Parks departments are often some of the largest entities within the county government. Not only do leaders need to navigate an internal bureaucracy, but they also need to manage a patchwork of funding streams from the state, each with its own documentation and reporting requirements. Even the most seasoned parks directors navigating all of this can be a headache.

Panelists Sue Simmons, Jessica Leys, Margaret Lashar broke down program funding and management from a state and county perspective. Ms. Lashar described the history of Program Open Space and the Local Park and Playground Infrastructure program (LPPI), as well as how the program is implemented at the state level. Ms. Simmons discussed a Parks Director’s perspective and managing not only elected officials, but also her department and constituent needs. Finally, Ms. Leys discussed how Program Open Space and LPPI is implemented at the local level and what these programs mean for county parks going forward. 

Title: Not a Walk in the Park: Funding Your Recreational Programs

Description: The General Assembly provides two major sources of funding for county parks projects: Local Park and Playground Infrastructure (LPPI) and Program Open Space. This funding provides results across the State, giving life to projects (that may not otherwise have happened), assisting local governments to better meet the changing recreational needs of a growing and diverse population, and providing opportunity and hope for residents. The session will break down these funding sources and illustrate how these infrastructure projects boost local morale, increase opportunity, and encourage tourism and economic development. Case studies will also highlight how funds have been leveraged to enhance community partnerships to better deliver public recreation services to residents. 


  • Sue Simmons, Former Director of Parks and Recreation, Caroline County
  • Jessica Leys, Director of Parks and Recreation, Anne Arundel County
  • Margaret Lashar, Local Grants Supervisor, Department of Natural Resources 

Moderator: The Honorable Jason Gallion, Maryland State Senate

More about MACo’s Winter Conference:

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