February 2015 - Parks & Recreation - 47

Tales of Two Cities
Two major American cities used
loans to achieve very ambitious aims
without the delays that can encumber
momentum. Their stories, in brief:
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles is one of America's largest metropolitan areas, but unlike other
cities of its size, only 36 percent of children live within one-quarter mile of a
park (compared to 91 percent in New
York and 85 percent in San Francisco).

Rudolf Balasko

think that our primary strategy for completing a project and repaying a loan is
going to work, but what if it doesn't?
What's your backup plan? What's the
business plan behind your project?
Have you completed a risk assessment/
likelihood of receiving the grants or
dollars you need?
Tell your story. Be proactive: Borrowing money to acquire a key tract and
then repaying the loan is a great story.
Tell it! You'd be surprised how it might
elevate community support. It really
helps with fundraising, too!

The River Revitalization Foundation's
goal is to recreate Milwaukee's urban landscape using the river as a focal point.

grants for project design and development, Amigos often had to wait months
for approved funding to be distributed,
which slowed their momentum.
" All of our projects are based on
reimbursement, and that makes it
difficult to manage cash flow, " says
Claire Robinson, executive director
of Amigos. " We were unable to get
financing from three different banks,
despite having $7 million in contracts. "
A $1 million loan from LCLP enabled
Amigos to continue their work on doz-

Borrowing money to acquire a key tract and then
repaying the loan is a great story. Tell it!
The nonprofit Amigos de los Rios
(Amigos) aimed to change that disparity by designing sustainable open spaces
along river corridors to create vibrant
communities and bring renewed life to
neglected urban neighborhoods.
Amigos created a countywide vision
that includes nature trails, playgrounds
and green spaces. All are designed to
enhance public life and health through
a network of parks and public spaces
that connect the San Gabriel Forest
to the Pacific Ocean - an Emerald
Necklace for the Los Angeles Basin.
Relying on public reimbursement
	

ens of projects, working with 62 cities
in the region. The comprehensive " Expanded Vision " plan was announced
in August 2014 with strong support to
re-create L.A. County as a leader in
green infrastructure and an overall better place to live, work and play.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
In Milwaukee, three rivers - the
Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic - define the vitality of the
region in more ways than one.
To help make this vibrant city an
even more attractive place to live,
the River Revitalization Foundation

established a parkway bordering the
three waterways for public access,
walkways, recreation and education,
as well as to use the rivers to revitalize surrounding neighborhoods and
improve water quality.
When key riverfront properties
were listed for sale, the Foundation
knew it wouldn't be able to obtain
a loan from their local bank fast
enough to secure the properties for a
new arboretum. " There's not much
undeveloped land available along the
river corridor anymore, and we cherish those small pieces, " says Executive Director Kimberly Gleffe.
With a loan from the LCLP in
2012, the Foundation acquired a 40acre network of river bluffs, trails
and parkland for the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum. Today,
the land is an ideal outdoor classroom, research laboratory and public
sanctuary that is free for the public
to enjoy.
All of us have big plans, and too
often there's no money available,
or it's provisional or unclear when
it will materialize. Consider how
alternate financing can move your
big-picture thinking to tangible public benefit.
Reggie Hall is the Director of the Land
Conservation Loan Program of The
Conservation Fund (rhall@conservationfund.
org).

W W W. N R PA . O R G | F E B R UA R Y 2 0 1 5 |

Parks & Recreation

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February 2015 - Parks & Recreation

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February 2015 - Parks & Recreation - 1
February 2015 - Parks & Recreation - 2
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