36 CFR Appendix A to Part 72, Criteria for Eligibility
Jurisdictions were considered for eligibility if they were functioning general purpose local governments in one of three categories:
1. Central cities of Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas in either 1970 or 1976 (1970 data derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of Population: 1970, 1976 data derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1976 Revenue Sharing Estimates File).
2. Cities and townships with Populations of 40,000 or more in either 1970 or 1976 (1970 data derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of Population: 1970, 1976 data derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1976 Revenue Sharing Estimates File).
3. Counties with populations of 250,000 or more in either 1970 or 1976 (1970 data derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of Population: 1970; 1976 data derived from 1976 Revenue Sharing Estimates File).
Indicators (variables) of distress and need were selected to determine eligibility for the program and were chosen for timeliness, reliability, and relevance to the Act. Certain variables were not used due to duplication, others because they were not available for all jurisdictions, and some because they were unrelated to the purposes of the Act. (Section 1002 of the Act states that the Congress finds that (a) the quality of life in urban areas is closely related to the availability of fully functional park and recreation systems including land, facilities, and service programs; (b) residents of cities need close-to-home recreational opportunities that are adequate to specialized urban demands, with parks and facilities properly located, developed, and well maintained; (c) the greatest recreational deficiencies with respect to land, facilities, and programs are found in many large cities, especially at the neighborhood level; (d) inadequate financing of urban recreation programs due to fiscal difficulties in many large cities has led to the deterioration of facilities, nonavailability of recreation services, and an inability to adapt recreational programs to changing circumstances; and (e) there is no existing Federal assistance program which fully addresses the needs for physical rehabilitation and revitalization of these park and recreation systems.)
The National Park Service asked the Bureau of the Census to assist in the analysis of national data in order to ensure that reliable, timely and applicable indicators of distress were used in determining eligibility for the program. NPS received comments from a number of interested individuals on what they considered, in their best judgment, to be the criteria that should be used in the program. NPS also received numerous position papers from national interest groups on what they thought were suitable indicators for the program. NPS then began a narrowing process intended to select the most appropriate criteria for eligibility in the program.
Listed below are the six variables selected for eligibility criteria:
This variable is commonly termed population density, and it is defined as the number of persons per square mile of land. It provides an indication of the extent to which an area is urbanized. Highly urbanized areas are most lacking in land set aside for recreation and park facilities and are experiencing difficulty in maintaining existing facilities. Highly dense areas tend to have the greatest need for assistance in revitalization of their neighborhood park and recreation facilities. Therefore, jurisdictions having high values for density would be favored by this variable, based on 1975 data of the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
Per capita income is the estimated average amount of total money income per person. It is derived by dividing the total income of a particular group by the total population in that group. Comparison of change in per capita income between urban jurisdictions provides an indication of each jurisdiction's economic growth. If the income of a city is growing more slowly than another city, the city with slower growth is in a relatively weaker economic position. As cited in the “Report on the Fiscal Impact of the Economic Stimulus Package on 48 Large Urban Governments (1978),” income growth is a determinant of taxable wealth and level of economic activity, and indicates a jurisdiction's capability to finance its own recreation and other projects. This measure of financial capacity is related to the Act which stipulates that the Secretary of the Interior consider factors related to economic distress. Therefore, jurisdictions with either negative or low relative growth in per capita income would be favored by this variable, based on 1976 data of the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
Percent unemployed, commonly termed the unemployment rate is defined as the number of people unemployed as a percent of the civilian labor force. The unemployment data are the product of a Federal/State cooperative program in which State Employment Security agencies prepare labor force and unemployment estimates using concepts, definitions, and technical procedures established by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The National Urban Recreation Study found that recreation and leisure time opportunities are most limited for the economically disadvantaged, including the unemployed. The 17 field studies of the National Urban Recreation Study reveal that low-income neighborhoods have less program diversity, little, if any, commercial recreation opportunities, and fewer year-round programs than higher income neighborhoods. Consideration of this variable is consistent with the mandate of the Act which requires that criteria be considered related to physical and economic distress. Therefore, this variable would tend to favor jurisdictions having high unemployment rates.
Automobile availability, as defined by the Bureau of the Census, represents the number of passenger automobiles, including station wagons, which are owned or regularly used by any member of the household and which are ordinarily kept at home. Taxicabs, pickups, or larger trucks were not counted. Lack of automobile availability is closely related to lack of recreation opportunity. The Recreation Access Study (U.S. Department of Transportation, 1975) found that access to a diversity of recreation opportunities is generally assured for those who have automobiles and are willing to travel reasonable distances, but such opportunities are often severely limited for people without cars. In addition, the 17 field studies of the National Urban Recreation Study concluded that most recreation opportunities for those without access to a personal auto is limited to immediate neighborhoods or place of residence. This variable is relevant to the Act in that the transportation disadvantaged households are the group that has the greatest need for expanded opportunities to enjoy their close to home resources.
Therefore, jurisdictions having a high proportion of households without automobiles would be favored by this variable, based on 1970 data of the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
This variable identifies those persons most likely to be the most frequent users of public park and recreation facilities. While many senior citizens have adequate incomes, they tend to be considerably less affluent and less mobile than the general population. Younger and older children also need public recreation facilities, especially in highly urbanized areas, where recreation facilities are most lacking. This variable was selected to favor areas with greater concentrations of the dependent population where need for recreation would be the greatest, and where rehabilitation of existing facilities the most pressing, in accordance with the Act. The variable was used in its absolute rate to give an indication of the size of the client populations in each jurisdiction, based on 1970 data of the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
In 1970, percent of population below poverty level was calculated by the Bureau of the Census as the proportion of the total population which reported income below the poverty level. This variable is the most current available indicator of poverty status for the jurisdictions in question. To accommodate the needs of economically disadvantaged people whose incomes are somewhat above the poverty level, such as those employed part-time, or those in very low-paid jobs, persons with incomes up to 125% of poverty are included in this variable. The poor and near-poor have the greatest need for public recreation opportunities and services in proximity to their homes. This variable is also related to that part of the Act which stipulates that the Secretary of the Interior consider “deficiencies in access to neighborhood recreation facilities, particularly for . . . low- and moderate-income residents,” and the extent to which park and recreation recovery efforts would provide employment opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents. Rehabilitation of parks is a relatively labor intensive activity having the potential for providing short-term jobs with low-skill requirements. Persons with poverty level incomes tend to lack skills and jobs. Therefore, this variable was selected to favor jurisdictions having a large percentage of its population in poverty. The poverty level of income is based on an index developed by the Social Security Administration in 1964 and subsequently modified by a Federal Interagency Committee. In 1969, the poverty thresholds ranged from $1,487 for a female unrelated individual 65 years old and over living on a farm to $6,116 for a nonfarm family with a male head and with seven or more persons. The average poverty threshold for a nonfarm family of four headed by a male was $3,745.
The method used to combine the variables had four steps. First, all values for each of the six variables were expressed in common or standard units. Second, for each jurisdiction, the standardized values for the six variables were added to produce a score. Third, the scores were ranked from high values (most eligible) to low values (least eligible). Fourth jurisdictions having scores above the median score for all jurisdictions were designated “eligible.”
The Administration stated before the Senate Subcommittee on Parks and Recreation on June 27, 1978, that it would ensure fair consideration of urban counties for eligibility under the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program. The Administration has kept this commitment by subjecting urban county data to the same eligibility standards as cities and including urban counties which meet those standards on the eligibility list. All urban counties with a population over 250,000 were considered under the same criteria (indicators of distress and need) as the city counterparts. Counties within and SMSA not on the eligibility list may compete for assistance as discretionary applicants.
The history of the Administration's UPARR proposal clearly indicates that this program is part of an overall national urban policy. Therefore, in accordance with the legislative mandate, project selection criteria will require that county projects be justified in terms of direct service to identifiable urban neighborhoods (residential areas), and that there must be evidence of cooperation between a county and its major city.
Section 1005(b) of the Bill states that at the Secretary's discretion, up to 15 percent of the program funds annually may be granted to local governments which do not meet eligibility criteria, but are located in Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas, provided that these grants to general purpose governments are in accord with the intent of the program. These governments may apply for grants under the program regardless of whether or not they are included on the list of eligible jurisdictions.