Traditional Values, Progressive Thinking – August 17, 2016

Mayor Gary Graham

Mayor Gary Graham

I, like many other O’Fallon and American citizens, have been watching the 2016 Summer Olympics with great excitement. American athletes have been winning medals since the opening ceremonies. In case you were not already aware, Ginny Thrasher, the first American Athlete to win a gold medal in this year’s Olympics, lived in O’Fallon and attended Fulton Junior High.

There is little doubt that many Olympic athletes started their careers in their local parks. Here in O’Fallon, we are very lucky to have excellent parks and recreation programming that allows O’Fallon’s youth and adults alike to get active and have some fun. O’Fallon’s parks are the best around.

In fact, on the 2016 National Citizen’s Survey, 93% of survey participants rated the O’Fallon City Parks as excellent or good. This number was well above the national benchmark comparisons.

It is easy to judge the success of an athlete or a team by the number of trophies, medals, or victories accumulated. It is also easy to judge the popularity of a park, sports program or facility by attendance or participation. It is not so easy though to determine the value and economic impact of parks and recreation programming.

O’Fallon’s parks support many sports leagues and tournaments. In 2016, it was determined that on an average of 128,000 times per year, a player, spectator or coach who does not reside in O’Fallon comes to O’Fallon to participate or play in a game, or visit our parks.

When these out-of-town visitors come to O’Fallon, they spend money on food, drinks, gas, retail goods and hotel rooms. In total, these visitors result in an additional $1.6 million being spent in O’Fallon by non-residents that would have most likely not existed otherwise.

In addition to out-of-town spending, the O’Fallon Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for directly improving the O’Fallon economy, especially in regards to youth employment.

Many of O’Fallon’s kids’ first jobs are in the O’Fallon Parks and Recreation Department. We see many of them as referees, lifeguards, and camp counselors. On average, O’Fallon Parks & Recreation employs over 65,000 hours of youth employment each year.

By employing O’Fallon’s youth, that means nearly $500,000 is earned by O’Fallon’s kids every year by working in O’Fallon’s parks. O’Fallon’s youth are able to gain experience and earn money, all while staying active and helping provide O’Fallon with the best parks amenities around.

O’Fallon’s highly rated and highly used Parks and Recreation is yet another example of why O’Fallon is such a great community in which to live.