Parks and Recreation supply important advantages for residents | Information | The Villages Each day Solar


Trails for hiking and biking, scenic wildlife viewing views, and recreational complexes for just about every activity imaginable, all serve an important purpose in their communities. These places help improve the quality of life of the people who inhabit and visit them. Designation in July as Parks and Recreation Month recognizes these places, from state parks and hiking trails to village recreation facilities, for the essential services they provide and how they benefit people. And just before the beginning of the month, the National Recreation and Park Association released the results of a survey that found that nearly all US adults support their communities in investing in parks and recreational infrastructure.

“These popular spaces are at the heart of any community, and additional park and recreational infrastructure is an investment in the people who live, work and play in these areas,” said Kevin Roth, NRPA vice president of research, evaluation and technology.

Such a feeling resonates with The Villages Developer, as evidenced by the numerous recreational complexes currently under construction that add to the already abundant community activity.

Rich in benefits

Parks and recreation areas benefit both the people who use them and the communities they serve.

An NRPA poll found that 93% of Americans think parks are beneficial for their mental health, citing benefits such as being outdoors, exercise, and socializing with family and friends.

This recovery from everyday stress became particularly clear last year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Roth. His agency found that parks provided a way to stay active when gyms and fitness centers were closed.

Another recent NRPA poll found that 92% of Americans support their local governments investing in recreational opportunities, including parks, community centers, recreational centers, and senior centers.

Communities benefit from the parks’ presence because they generate billions in economic activity and support higher property values, conservation, tourism and economic development, according to the NRPA.

Recreation, especially outdoor activities, is vital to Florida.

Florida generated $ 49 billion in gross domestic product from outdoor recreational activities in 2019, the second highest in the country, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Go new ways

With the expansion of The Villages to the south, the community not only expands the number of recreational facilities, but also offers more opportunities to exercise outdoors against the picturesque backdrop of adjacent wetlands.

The Homestead Recreation Complex, which is still under construction in the village of Citrus Grove, will include a “secluded” nature reserve with a boardwalk among its amenities, said Jennifer Morse Parr, vice president of The Villages Sales and Marketing, in a video update on The Der Construction of parks in the villages.

“Beautiful natural scenery” is also being developed near Lake Okahumpka, which will include new boardwalks and trails for bird and wildlife viewing, Parr said.

Extension of the amenities

When it opens, the Homestead Recreation Complex will include a unique feature for the community: astronomy pads that astronomers can place telescopes on to view the stars.

Members of The Villages Astronomy Club are excited to debut the 10×10 concrete blocks set in a wooded area where trees are blocking light pollution from the surrounding area.

The club’s vice president, Mark Graybill, of Village of Liberty Park, said he believes Homestead will be a good permanent home for his group’s telescope workshops when it opens.

State parks remain popular

While The Villages offers plenty of recreational opportunities, the rest of Florida offers plenty of options too.

Its state park system, which currently includes 175 parks, hiking trails, and historic sites, including six in the tri-border region, offers residents and visitors numerous opportunities for hiking, camping, paddling, and wildlife viewing.

“There are some unique natural areas and natural features that the state parks manage,” said Mark Knapke, park manager at Lake Griffin State Park, the closest state park to the Northern Villages.

Despite its small size and summer heat, Lake Griffin is attracting great interest from campers this summer, Knapke said. He thinks this is likely because people continue to camp and travel in recreational vehicles, trends that emerged last year when people sought socially distant vacations.

And heads of state are currently trying to encourage more such trips.

July 1 marked the start of the first Freedom Week Florida tax vacation, which exempts sales tax on camping supplies such as tents, sleeping bags and hammocks, water sports equipment such as canoes and kayaks, and state park admissions.

It continues to this day.

Senior Writer Michael Salerno can be reached at 352-753-1119, extension. 5369, or [email protected]