Letter: In Focus column undervalued open spaces

August 5, 2013 

In reading Jeff Losey's comments regarding the economic vitality of new housing (In Focus, July 28), I think he's confused about open space and its role in our community.

Open space is a generic term for nondeveloped areas within the administrative boundaries of a city. Recent trends in development create a new urgency to planning for parks and open spaces. It isn't adequate to view open space as "leftover land" after other uses have been planned and developed.

Perhaps it is more palatable for developers to think of open space preservation in terms of dollars? The availability of parks is an important factor for corporations choosing where to locate facilities and individuals choosing a place to live. City parks often become tourism draws, contributing heavily to local businesses. Open spaces improve our physical and psychological health, strengthen our communities and make cities more attractive places to live and work.

Natural features such as rivers and ridges define our community image. Open space lands are disappearing at an increasingly rapid rate, and now is the time to plan for their preservation. We should encourage developers to look beyond providing the basic need of shelter and work toward developing a true sense of community.

SHANNON GOODWIN, Richland

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