Open space, especially in the form of expansive landscapes such as parks, greenways and natural areas, gives strength to our communities, enhances property values, and improves our physical health and sense of well-being which makes the Fayetteville area one of the best places to live in America. Preserved natural areas offer wild beauty, the adventure of exploration, opportunities to study nature, and respite from the bustle of daily life. Parks and greenways not only provide trail corridors, which in turn create a means healthy recreation or alternative transportation in the form of walking and biking corridors, but they also form a means of connectivity for neighborhoods and wildlife. According to the Center for Disease Control creation of or enhanced access to places for physical activity lead to a 25.6% increase in the percentage of people exercising three or more days per week.
Parks are essential for socially healthy communities. Their use for family reunions, school and neighborhood picnics, concerts under the stars, weddings, Fourth of July celebrations, baseball, tennis, soccer games, swimming, or even old car shows make parks an integral part of America’s social fabric.
Greenspace in urban areas provides substantial environmental benefits. In the fifty year life of just one tree, the U.S. Forest Service has determined it will generate $31,250 worth of oxygen, $62,000 of pollution control, and reduce both soil erosion and water runoff. Green space can protect declining, rare, or endangered species, or conserve various types of habitat ranging from prairies to wetlands to forests. Greenways often improve properties that are in flood-prone areas would more than likely turn into trash and litter repositories.
Most residential and commercial developers in our area have come to realize that preserving open or natural space within a new community increases the return on investment on homes, lots and business property. In a press release dated April 25, 2001, the National Association of Realtors reported a survey by Public Opinion Strategies where 50% of respondents said they would be willing to pay 10% more for a house located near a park or other protected open space.
Open space in Fayetteville, the nearby Ozark National Forest or the pastoral farm lands of the Washington County area are all very attractive to the tourists and business visitors who add significantly to the prosperity of Fayetteville. The combination of open space, the University of Arkansas, excellent schools, a top notch medical community, fine cultural amenities, and thriving industries bring an abundance of new permanent residents.
Open Space benefiting from strong citizen support, remains essential to the economic success of this region.
Many private land owners in the Fayetteville area express concern and great regret that the open spaces which were once a part of their lives are now disappearing within their lifetime. What will the natural future hold for their successors?