In the wake of unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, cities and towns across the United States are presented with a unique opportunity to rejuvenate their public spaces. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) has allocated substantial funds to help local governments recover and rebuild, with a particular focus on enhancing community infrastructure and amenities. For municipalities looking to improve parks, playgrounds, picnic shelters, gazebos, public restrooms, and other recreational facilities, ARPA funds offer a timely lifeline.

Enhancing Parks and Playgrounds

Parks and playgrounds are essential hubs of community life, offering spaces for families to gather, children to play, and residents to unwind. With ARPA funding, municipalities can undertake significant upgrades such as:

  • Upgrading Playground Equipment: Investing in modern, safe, and inclusive playground structures that cater to children of all abilities.
  • Renovating Park Facilities: Improving amenities like benches, picnic tables, and trash receptacles to enhance comfort and cleanliness for visitors.
  • Green Initiatives: Implementing sustainable landscaping practices and adding green spaces that promote biodiversity and environmental sustainability.

Improving Picnic Shelters and Gazebos

Picnic shelters and gazebos are popular spots for community gatherings, events, and outdoor celebrations. ARPA funds can be utilized to:

  • Repair and Maintenance: Address structural issues, repaint, and ensure these structures remain safe and inviting.
  • Accessibility: Install ramps and accessible seating to ensure that these spaces are usable by all community members, regardless of mobility.

Enhancing Public Restrooms

Clean and well-maintained public restrooms are crucial for visitor comfort and hygiene in parks and on city streets. ARPA funds can support:

  • Renovation and Sanitation: Upgrading restroom facilities with modern amenities, improving sanitation measures, and ensuring accessibility compliance. Considering modern amenities like self-cleaning, smart public restrooms is a great example of what can be done to provide for park visitors.
  • Energy Efficiency: Installing energy-efficient fixtures and systems to reduce operational costs and environmental impact.

Adding Site Amenities

Site amenities such as bike racks, lighting fixtures, and signage contribute to the functionality and aesthetics of public spaces. ARPA funding allows for:

  • Safety and Accessibility: Enhancing lighting for increased safety during evening hours and installing clear signage for wayfinding.
  • Community Engagement: Adding amenities like community bulletin boards and Wi-Fi hotspots to foster communication and connectivity among residents.

Leveraging ARPA Funds for Community Well-being

Beyond the physical improvements, leveraging ARPA funds for parks and recreation facilities can have profound impacts on community well-being:

  • Promoting Health and Wellness: Encouraging outdoor activities and physical fitness among residents, which is crucial for public health.
  • Cultural and Social Cohesion: Providing spaces for cultural events, festivals, and community gatherings that promote social cohesion and civic pride.
  • Economic Stimulus: Creating job opportunities through construction projects and supporting local businesses that supply materials and services.


As communities navigate the path to recovery, ARPA funding presents a historic opportunity to reimagine and revitalize parks and recreation facilities. By investing in these essential public spaces, cities and towns not only enhance quality of life for residents but also lay the groundwork for a resilient and thriving future. MRC Recreation stands ready to partner with municipalities, offering expertise in park and recreation equipment to help bring these visions to life. Together, we can build stronger, more vibrant communities where everyone can live, play, and prosper.

Let’s make the most of this opportunity to create lasting positive change in our neighborhoods.