Page:Olmsted report on Portland, Oregon parks, 1903.djvu/10

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REPORT OF THE PARK BOARD

satisfy one of the general rule that parks are a better asset, when the loan by which they have been acquired becomes payable, than school buildings, fire engine houses, city halls, street improvements and most other things for which cities borrow money, and all of which deteriorate and some of which become almost valueless, even it they are not destroyed to make room for better structures.

13—Park Systems Should Be Improved by Means of Loans, Special Assessments and Annual Taxation.

The experience of the larger cities has been that by far the most satisfactory and profitable results have been obtained by improving their parks as rapidly as such difficult and complex work can wisely be effected, usually in from three to five years after the acquisition of the land, depending upon various circumstances, but mainly upon the prospect of a consequent rapid rise in the values of adjoining lands. In general, it is safe to say that some parks and parkways or some portions of them should be rapidly improved, at least to such degree as is necessary to perfect their landscape and to render them at once available for the public to use with reasonable convenience and satisfaction and without undue injury to the verdure of the parks. Such rapid improvement cannot, as a rule, be accomplished by means of such appropriations as can be spared from annual taxes. In certain cases money can be raised in large amounts by special assessments on adjoining properties. Such special assessments are levied only when the land can be shown to have derived special benefits, and only to a less amount in each case than the estimated increase in valuation. Such special assessments may generally be levied first when the land for a park or parkway is taken or soon after the taking and again when the improvements have advanced far enough to affect favorably the valuation of adjoining and neighboring properties, in the case of land only part of which is taken, the benefit and damage should be considered at the same time and the award or assessment should be for the balance between the two only. Minor improvements and even the land purchases for additions or for squares, play grounds, small parks and short or inexpensive parkways may be paid for out of annual taxation, especially during prosperous times.

14—Park Systems Should Be Improved Both Occasionally and Continuously.

Like many public institutions, railroads and industrial plants, the improvement of parks is done from time to time by occasional relatively large expenditures such as would be paid for by borrowed money or by especially large appropriations for specific purposes and also