Parks summit in Belfast to stress economic value of public space

Posted July 07, 2009, at 8:40 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — An internationally recognized expert on the value of parks will be the keynote speaker at a Maine Citizen Summit next month.

John L. Crompton, distinguished professor of parks, recreation and tourism sciences at Texas A&M University, will address “Maine Parks as Economic Engines” at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center on Route 3 in Belfast at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 1.

Crompton has spent much of his career assessing the impact of parklands on local economies. He is known worldwide for his work on the marketing and financing of recreational services.

According to Crompton’s research findings, the benefits of well-run parks are far greater than just pretty scenery, fresh air and more tourists.

“Park and recreation agencies can be a central contributor to economic development,” Crompton has said.

Crompton was born in England and founded a successful recreation and tourism company there before relocating to Texas A&M three decades ago. In 2006, his university city of College Station, Texas, dedicated the 15-acre John Crompton Park in his honor.

Included on the park’s signs are two of Crompton’s most widely quoted observations. “There are no great cities in this world that do not have a great park system,” and “Parks are a community’s canary in the coal mine. They are barometers that convey a visible impression of the city’s economic and social health and vibrancy.”

The summit will begin with registration at 9 a.m. There will be a recreation fair with representatives from various local outdoor recreation groups who will describe their missions with literature and displays in the Hutchinson Center’s atrium. After a box lunch, participants will divide into breakout sessions which will be fol-lowed by a round-table discussion of the ideas and suggestions raised during the day. The summit is scheduled to adjourn by 3 p.m. to give those attending time to enjoy the recreational attractions of midcoast Maine.

Crompton’s address is part of the Distinguished Speaker Series of Senior College and is sponsored by Senior College, Waldo County Healthcare and the Hutchinson Center with support from Friends of Belfast Parks and the Maine Recreation and Parks Association.

Registration for the Maine Citizen Summit is $25 and must be made in advance by July 25. For registration forms call 338-2160 or 338-1704 or e-mail debbieh1@roadrunner.com.

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