Liberty Playground, funded in part by Liberty Mutual Insurance, is a universally accessible playground in Plano, Texas. Photo: Cooper Neill/Getty Images for Liberty Mutual Insurance

Parks are becoming part of a city's infrastructure to provide environmental, social and economic roles in addition to recreation.

The big picture: After decades of a lack of investment in parks, planners are reimagining how they can use spaces that were previously unattractive.

What's happening: Sharing the cost across utilities, health and housing programs, and economic development initiatives has made it easier to pay for parks with multiple funding sources.

The parks serve several purposes: Playgrounds for recreation, linear parks for pedestrian and cycling routes, reservoirs for stormwater management, or central squares for pop-up fairs and gatherings.

  • In Houston, voters approved a $100 million bond effort to transform 3,000 acres of land along nine bayous into a vast network of parks and trails.
  • In Philadelphia, The Oval in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a parking lot during the winter, but in warmer weather becomes a place for family activities. It's slated to be a permanent park.
  • San Francisco installed a playground at the foot of City Hall to revive the neglected Civic Center Plaza.
  • Providence, Rhode Island, turned a former brownfield site into a park with a bicycle pump track, trails and a parkour course. Its rain gardens reduce flooding.

What they're saying:

"Cities are doing this to remain economically competitive to attract families and young workers who eventually create their own families. But they're also making sure they're creating opportunities for existing residents who have weathered the storms of disinvestment."
— Catherine Nagel, CEO of City Parks Alliance

Go deeper:

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Fauci says if people won't wear masks, maybe it should be mandated

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Graeme Jennings- Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

Harris to Black voters: Casting a ballot is about honoring your ancestors

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris speaks at a "Get Out The Vote" rally at Morehouse College. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris appealed to Black voters in Georgia on Friday, urging them to "honor the ancestors" by casting ballots, and again calling President Trump a "racist."

Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months.
  2. Sports: The youth sports exodus continues — Big Ten football is back.
  3. Health: U.S. hits highest daily COVID-19 case count since pandemic began —AstraZeneca to resume vaccine trial in U.S.How to help save 130,000 lives.
  4. Retail: Santa won't greet kids at Macy's this year.
  5. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.