Parks play increasingly important roles in the modern urban landscape.
As America upgrades and expands its roads, sewers, and utilities, it needs also to improve green infrastructure; the ecological framework needed for environmental and economic sustainability.
By planning and managing urban parks in concert with other development, cities can reduce flood control and storm water management costs, protect biological diversity, provide recreation and increase civic engagement.
Appealing to humans’ intuitive love of nature and open space, a well-designed park improves the public health and brings together people of all ages and cultures. Best of all, it’s free to visit anytime.
New homebuyers regularly rate access to parks among the Top 10 most important considerations in their decision-making process. Mostly funded by property taxes, parks generally do well in local bond and levy elections.
In the old days, green space simply had to be physically attractive, maybe with room for some playground equipment and a picnic area.
But with urban planners putting more people in less space, parks today need to be much more – cultural institution, botanical garden – sometimes even a large-size community meeting room!
Most of all, parks need to provide plenty of places to sit. One of the most commonly cited factors in the failure of parks to attract visitors is not planning enough areas for people to comfortably take a load off during a busy day.
A few government and private non-profit websites are dedicated to mapping and rating parks and playgrounds in neighborhoods around the country.
On mapofplay.kaboom.org, users are invited to add photos, ratings comments and new play spaces, plan play days or organize clean-ups and other projects.
Parks are social spaces where we can get to know our neighbors, build a sense of belonging and learn to understand each other better.