A Playground Near Every Child: How One Man (The Mayor) Made a Difference


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This document provides the details of how St. Petersburg’s Play ‘n’ Close to Home initiative first came to be and how it was implemented. Before this policy was enacted, only 49% of residents under the age of 18 lived within half a mile of a playground. Mayor Baker stood fully committed to ensuring that the Play ‘n’ Close to Home initiative was enacted and properly implemented. To ensure proper implementation Mayor Baker assigned high-level staff to gather support from key partners in the community. These individuals gathered data and provided information on the the costs and benefits of playgrounds. Although, Mayor Baker did not face any opposition, he did face a challenge in that the city was 95% developed, and that land was only available at a premium. This is when the idea of joint use agreements came about. Because Mayor Baker had a good relationship with school board members, he was able to negotiate terms which would allow joint use of school property. The agreement would benefit both parties because the city would pay for playground maintenance. Seven years after implementing the Play ‘n’ Close to Home policy, the amount of playgrounds within half a mile of those under the age of 18 has increased to 75%.


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