Green spaces and play are essential to human health and development, and they serve as valued escapes from the gray, mundane pressures and challenges that can be a part of daily life.
Successful park planning begins with local needs, so it requires honest, penetrating engagement with citizens and stakeholders. The usual public meeting or hearing is often not enough. We have found success by going to the regular meetings of civic groups, user groups, and so on, on their turf. Many people who would not bother with a public meeting can speak up very comfortably in this kind of setting.
Public parks are public property and often must serve more than just one purpose. That can be more than just putting a junior soccer field in a softball diamond outfield. It can weave a greenway trail across a park, surround a regional BMP with a pollinator garden, create social spaces for festivals, and so much more.
Park planning balances a host of issues to develop parks, athletic fields, play areas, and natural spaces that are fun, safe, equitable, and readily managed.
Park planning can go beyond traditional recreation facilities to serve the complex, multi-dimensional needs and desires of the local community for both green infrastructure and social infrastructure.
Park planning also must account for the serious, real-life issues that are daily concerns for facility managers and owners, such as long-term operations and maintenance, life cycle costs, risk management, vandalism, and crime prevention.