Planning & Development

Planning Myth #1: Open Space Costs Money

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by Floating Deer Head Saturday September 6, 2008

Floating Deer Head

Hi. Floating Deer Head here.

In November, Cranston residents will vote on a 6 million dollar bond proposal to be used for open space in the city. The State of Rhode Island, meanwhile, took a step back and only mustered up a 2.5 million referendum. I have to say that I’m proud of Cranston for ignoring the missteps of the state and raising the ante. It will be cheaper in the long run, and here’s why.

As a city, Cranston really can’t afford any more land that isn’t left as open space. I mean, let’s be honest – open space does much more to preserve the character of a city than any development would. But more importantly, Cranston’s taxpayers simply can’t afford to foot the bill for more developments in the city. Especially residential developments. You’re scratching your head, and it’s not from my flea infested fur. Yes, new developments cost Cranston money.

The bulk of Cranston’s new development proposals will be residential. Take, for example, the west side of the city. Once farmland, most of this acreage has been expertly positioned for an influx of new housing in the coming decade. With every new housing unit comes the need for services – especially school services. Cranston’s school system costs the city roughly 84 million dollars $125 million (see comment #1 below) for roughly 11,000 students. So Cranston pays more than $7,000 $11,360 (see comment #1 below) per student. For multiple-child households, that can quickly add up. More housing units means more students, which means a greater need for buses, teachers and space. And this doesn’t even consider other city expenditures like public safety, public services and social programs. In the end, it raises your taxes – and makes me happy that I simply float through what’s left of the woods without that burden – and can laugh at you from afar.

This rant isn’t meant to be anti-development. Well-planned commercial and industrial projects are a boon to a city, and open space can actually be a catalyst for these types of projects. This is just a chance to set the record straight – and to dispel any myths about the cost of open space that might be out there. The math is pretty simple. Investing in open space will save Cranston money. And there’s a bond on the ballot this November that will help to achieve that goal. Kind of a no-brainer, if you ask me.

Later. I’ve got to get back to chewing my cud.

Learning from other communities.

[where: 02910]


  1. Floating Deer Head says “Cranston’s school system costs the city roughly 84 million dollars for roughly 11,000 students. So Cranston pays more than $7,000 per student.”

    That $84 Million you cited is just for payroll.

    According to the FY09 adopted budget, the school system will cost the city approximately $125 Million.

    Using the rough number of 11,000 students, the true cost is around $11,360 per student. Ouch.

    I would rather see Cranston spend money on open space than on artificial turf or gold-plated employment contracts.

    Mark Lucas · Sep 6, 01:30 PM · #

  2. It’s all very true, the current and future residents of the City will benefit from the preservation of Open Space throughout the City!

    Rachel McNally · Sep 7, 05:58 AM · #


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