What Benefits Us

Beacon Hill
Beacon Hill

Earlier this week, I stole away some time for a hike up on the Gunks near New Paltz. The ridge was mine alone, and it was great to stretch my wintered legs and warm them up for spring (photo here is on the Beacon Hill trail).

On Tuesday, after spending time helping kids learn about the benefits of gardening and open space (thank you Kristen Wilson of the Cornell Co-operative 4-H program for the opportunity!), I made another quick hike at Onteora Lake, just outside Kingston. It was steamy hot, but wonderful. That night, I went to a biodiversity session presented by the Ulster County Planning Department (see the story, here). It was a great way to end the day, and reminded me why open space is so important to human health — physical and mental.

I thought about how unique and lucky we are to live in Kingston. We’ve got great proximity to some amazing parks and preserves such as the Catskill Preserve (it’s just two miles away!) as well as Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park (which are about 45 minutes away). Within the city itself, we’ve got some great open space, most notably Hasbrouck Park and Kingston Point. But we also have some pocket parks in the city that are just treasures.

The Trust for Public Land has a terrific report on the benefits of parks and greenbelts — especially in cities. I pulled it out, and re-read a few sections last night. Of course the obvious benefits of city parks and open space are health-related. People exercise more when there’s a park in the neighborhood. And studies show that people exposed to nature and greenery are healthier. There are other values too. For the environment, parks help control stormwater runoff.

Regarding property values, studies have shown that parks bolster property values by 32 percent on average.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

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