The city of Yuma is holding up its end of the bargain with the 2-percent hospitality tax.
The tax, which was renewed in 2009, earmarked a minimum of $2.5 million to be used for parks and recreation facilities over the next 15 years.
So far, revenue has been used to develop a new trail along the Colorado River and nine holes of disc golf at the West Wetlands Park.
Now, the Yuma City Council has awarded a contract for the Yuma Valley Park, which will feature four regulation-sized soccer fields, a playground, restrooms and picnic areas.
But the hospitality tax isn't the only stream of revenue for the project. The city has secured nearly $83,000 in grant funding and donations from the U.S. Soccer Foundation Grant, Hunter Irrigation, Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group and Kaboom!
The hospitality tax revenue will also be used to continue projects at the West Wetlands Park, including two beaches. The city's parks “to do” list also includes developing an athletic complex near Yuma Palms Regional Center, adding more features to the West Wetlands, expanding Smucker Park and creating the Yuma East Park that will include the Agua Viva Lake.
Parks are a critical piece of a city's economic well-being as well as its quality of life.
They increase the value of neighboring properties, according to American Planning Association (APA), which cites Chattanooga, Tenn., as a success story example. In the 1980s, the city was facing crime and unemployment issues. They focused on improving quality of life with new parks and trails, and found that property values rose by 127.5 percent.
APA, which focuses on community development, also notes that parks also attract affluent retirees, while at the same time luring potential employees - and employers - to the area. And, homebuyers are more likely to purchase a home when there's a park nearby.
Having a strong, healthy parks system is a quality of life issue that is important to many Yumans, especially those who are raising families.
We're glad to see the city is improving and adding to our parks, while at the same time honoring its 2009 promise to voters.