Are businesses more important than these recreation grounds?
The man was scowling and his face became redder and redder the longer he spoke. I was surprised at the level of his vehemence. “What this town needs is not more parks and open space,” he was telling me, angrily. “What we need are more businesses!”
I didn’t know the man well, only that he was a businessman, involved in buying and selling properties. “What we should be doing is turning these historic houses into businesses…fancy boutiques and little coffee shops.”
“But, Mr. Putnam,” I replied, “folks who live here don’t want to live on a congested street next to a fancy boutique. They love our many parks and open spaces. That’s why they moved here in the first place.”
He went on excitedly exclaiming that in a nearby town, houses sold for $10,000 more than in our town. I could almost see the cash registers “ka-chinking” in his eyes.
I tried again. “Many of us could move to that town down the road if we wanted to, but they’ve covered up their open spaces with buildings and macadam. Their history is dissolving into shopping centers and parking lots. That’s why people move here.”
I doubt if anything I said registered with Mr. Putnam. He was in no mood to listen. I listened, though, and found myself thinking about his heated words the following week.
Should towns, cities, counties, states, and the federal government stop preserving land for public parks? It’s a fair question. Still, I keep coming back to how much Americans love their parks and open spaces.
Just today, I read in our local newspaper, The Bucks County Courier Times, that the annual supply of 1,500 hiking permits in the Grand Canyon are in such demand by people all over the world that a new system is having to be devised to ensure fairness.
For years, we’ve been hearing of how Americans love their parks so much that in some cases we are in danger of loving them to death! Parts are closed down temporarily to allow them to recover from over-use.
Yesterday, as I spent two hours huffing and puffing, digging and planting daffodil and tulip bulbs in my front yard, dozens and dozens of people walked, jogged, bicycled, and skateboarded by me, enjoying the peace and serenity of a stroll past and in the open spaces and parks in our town.
Too many parks? Not enough macadam and businesses? Mr. Putnam, I don’t think so. Readers, what do you think?
Feel free to email me your environmental tips and questions!