A new economic impact study indicates the 14 parks and 125 miles of trails managed by Metro Parks, Serving Summit County add a lot more “green” than green space to the local community.
The study, conducted by The University of Akron and Lux Research, LLC, is the first such look at benefits in the park district’s 92-year history.
Annually, the district’s impact on Summit County property values is nearly $42 million, adding an additional $485,000 in tax revenue to local government agencies. The value of health benefits to residents is up to $17 million, and up to $3 million in local spending comes from tourists who visit Summit County for the primary purpose of visiting Metro Parks. Finally, 288 jobs, including 80 non-Metro Parks jobs, and $7.8 million in earnings are added to the local economy every year.
The numbers were calculated utilizing visitor-intercept surveys, data from previous community-wide polls and surveys in which Metro Parks participated, numbers from the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau, conservative values from peer-reviewed studies about parks in other areas of the country, and secondary data from other sources.
Instead of providing one “impact” number, the team tallied numbers for different categories to eliminate the double counting of benefits.
Metro Parks spokesperson Nathan Eppink offered up another value of the Metro Parks: “Most visitors won’t pay anything out-of-pocket when they visit,” he said. “We’re funded by a small Summit County real-estate tax that supports our day-to-day operations and improvements. Everyone can visit and see their public dollars at work.”
Eppink noted there are affordable charges to enter swimming areas and to reserve pavilions and shelters, but everyday access and most programs and events are free.
The study was paid for by the Metro Parks Foundation, a nonprofit endowment that accepts gifts and grants to support the park district's charitable, educational and scientific initiatives.
For more information about the park district, visit summitmetroparks.org or call 330-865-8065.