Colorado Springs spends less money on its parks than the national average, according to an annual report from the Trust for Public Land. The analysis compared the 100 largest cities in the United States.
On average, cities spend $83 per resident in parks. In Colorado Springs, it's $76. Denver spends $121, and Aurora even more.
Karen Palus, director of the Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, says the dollar amount in the report is based on a three year average, so it varies depending on current projects.
This year's report also took into account volunteers taking charge of their neighborhood parks, which Palus says is invaluable.
“Many of our parks have friends groups," Palus says. "Many of them provide resources, sweat equity, support with projects or programs. We could not operate to the level that we do if it wasn’t for these wonderful people in our community.”
She says park lovers in Colorado Springs donated more than 136,000 hours of their time last year.
The city has a budget of close to $12.3 million for parks, recreation and cultural services. Additional sources of funding include lottery funds and grants.
Charlie McCabe with the non-profit Trust for Public Land says funding levels across the country have not yet made it back to pre-recession totals, but they’re getting closer. He says a key issue for Colorado Springs will be maintaining funds as the population grows.
“So what are the ways that we can ensure that our park systems keep that level of upkeep, they keep that level of replacement, and they keep that level of being able to attract and bring out people to come out and enjoy their parks?” McCabe says.
The report says Colorado Springs has 207 parks, with just over two-thirds of residents living within a 10 minute walk. Colorado Springs is ranked 5th in nature centers and 10th in skate parks and trails.