Support Local Journalism


A park, particularly a green space in the heart of a metropolis, adds tremendous value to a city. But is it possible to put a dollar value on that worth?

In an effort to measure that value, Dr. Jaap Vos and Dr. Thomas Wuerzer, two professors in Boise State University's Department of Community and Regional Planning, have completed a research project addresssing the question "What is the added economic value that Boise's Parks and Recreation system provides to the City of Boise?" They will reveal their findings to the Boise City Council on Tuesday, April 21.

The national nonprofit Trust for Public Land uses a standard of 500 feet. In other words, they measure a park's economic impact to homes within 500 feet. There are 11,749 properties within 500 feet of Boise parks. Those homes represent more than $2.7 billion in assessed residential property value. Add in the Boise Greenbelt and Foothills, and there are 16,101 properties within the 500 feet, representing $4.2 billion in assessed residential property value.

But Vos tells Boise Weekly that they were more interested in measuring Boise's entire park system (including the Greenbelt and Foothills) and their economic impact to all residences. That comes close to an impact of approximately $580 million.

There are many variables, however, beginning with the fact that not all parks have the same impact and some homes have greater access to multiple parks. 

The following are among the study's conclusions:

-Access is more important than distance.

-Different parks have different economic impacts (for example Ann Morrison and Julia Davis parks have a much greater impact to all city residences while neighborhood parks have a more parochial impact).

-The park system has a significant impact on property tax revenue in all of Ada County.