Outdoor space remains essential for community health | My opinion

The designated open space off South Meadows Road shows what COVID-19 has shown us about the importance of green spaces to public health. Since the pandemic, experts in public health, education and parks have come to a new appreciation for the essential role that green spaces play in the health of a community.

With families and children facing the closure of indoor recreational activities and spaces for socializing, the ability to get outside has become even more important to people’s daily health. Santa Fe schools are actively looking for ways to expand outdoor learning and build outdoor classrooms.

The Trust for Public Land, a reputable national resource involved with Railyard Park, has released four reports since the start of the pandemic. One begins: “The global pandemic has highlighted that parks close to home are crucial for the quality of life of a community… numerous scientific studies show the benefits of nature for physical and mental health. Another report calls the open space “a lifeline”.

Neighbors on South Meadows Road walked into their open space, comforting each other and taking inspiration from an untouched ecosystem teeming with wild animals and native plants. They were told it was donated by the county to the city, that it would one day be upgraded according to a county plan for “easy accessibility with attractive fences, unstructured play areas, a community garden. , a network of local trails and an outdoor classroom. for public education and conservation programs.

As a national standard for a healthy quality of life, everyone should be within a 10-minute walk of a park or open space. That is why every parcel of those 22 acres is needed where it is.

The Trust for Public Lands website lets anyone, anywhere in the country, see how their neighborhood compares to the 10-minute benchmark. The good news for Santa Fe is that the Trust for Public Land model shows that 67% of Santa Feans have healthy access to green space. The bad news, which the mayor and city officials have acknowledged time and time again, is that only 15% or less of the residents of District 3 have this access.

According to Kristen Weil, head of technical research and urban analysis at the Trust for Public Land, “the open space you defend is essential.” The group’s model estimates that the site will provide access to green spaces for 2,600 residents, even before the Acequia Trail is extended beyond the site to connect to the El Camino Real Trail and River Trail as planned.

Neighbors have actively reached out to potential partners such as Trust for Public Land, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and joined Friends of Santa Fe Parks, which has access to new federal neighborhood park grant programs and could provide assistance. technician as well as volunteers for maintenance. . However, these resources and partnerships will only be available if the land is in government hands. We will be reaching out to the five schools located within two blocks of the open space to discuss the types of partnerships the county is considering, particularly for building an outdoor classroom and learning in natural environments that promote learning. creativity through art, engineering, observation, mathematics and community.

A neighborhood early warning meeting on the open space development is scheduled for Thursday. According to neighborhood reviews from developer Homewise, the project would include the highest possible housing density on three-quarters of the site and a small percentage of affordable units, mostly likely affordable for a 10-year period. We ask Homewise, known for its willingness to listen to communities, to stop this effort and look for another ground to develop.

Neighborhoods around the open space of South Meadows Road do not have the option to purchase an additional 22 acres, and this has already been purchased with taxpayer-approved bond money. There is no other land on the south side zoned for open space in the general plan, especially one that can serve 2,600 residents.

Marlow Morrison is the president of Tiempos Lindos HOA, a resident of the south and an ordinary working-class woman.