picture credit: http://www.ellecanada.com/culture/travel/article/new-york-city-travel-guide-lifestyle-addresses
When people think about cities, visions of outsized buildings and broad boulevards dance through their heads. However, a city’s vitality might depend as much upon its parks as it does upon its brick and mortar structures.
These open spaces remain controversial in their own way, however, as some observers describe them in positive terms while others are much more circumspect. And their skepticism is understandable because unless parks receive due diligence they can denigrate into eyesores or worse. They might demand a greater commitment than a city is positioned to grant them.
In Praise of Parks
These articles praise the potential of urban parks. They maintain that these open spaces can make a neighborhood more visually appealing, while they also cleanse its atmosphere and grant residents a chance to exercise or socialize.
Alton, Larry. Urban area development: The benefits of skate parks." economicdevelopment, 7 July, 2017. http://economicdevelopment.org/2015/07/urban-area-development-the-benefits-of-skate-parks/www.tpl.org. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Casandra, "8 Reasons Why Parks Are Important." gardinergreenribbon, http://www.gardinergreenribbon.com/why-parks-are-important/ .Accessed May 11, 2018.
"General Info." brec,http://brec.org/index.cfm/page/1808/n/153. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Konijnendijk, Cecil C. Matilda Annerstedt, Anders Busse Nielsen, Sreetheran Maruthaveeran. "Benefits of Urban Parks A systematic review A Report for IFPRA." worldurbanparks, Jan, 2013. http://worldurbanparks.org/images/Newsletters/IfpraBenefitsOfUrbanParks.pdf . Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Mathew, Teresa. Here's How Cities Can Get the Most out of Their Parks." citylab, 18 Oct., 2017. https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/10/improving-the-public-health-tool-in-our-backyards/543303/. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Project for Public Spaces. http://www.pps.org , Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Trust for Public Land. http://www.tpl.org . Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Sherer, Paul M. The Benefits of Parks: Why America Needs More City Parks and Open Space." eastshorepark,http://eastshorepark.org/benefits_of_parks%20tpl.pdf. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
"Why Urban Parks Matter." cityparkalliance, https://www.cityparksalliance.org/why-urban-parks-matter. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Wolf, Kathleen L. Ph.D. "The Health Benefits of Small Parks and Green Spaces." nrpa, 3 April, 2017. https://www.nrpa.org/parks-recreation-magazine/2017/april/the-health-benefits-of-small-parks-and-green-spaces/. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
A More Skeptical View of Parks
Parks might have the potential to benefit a community in a myriad of different ways. However, they also present some pretty definite challenges. How can cities design parks so that these open spaces live up to their potential? How can they fund them? How can they make them more accessible? These articles speak to those points.
Badger, Emily. "More segregated cities spend less on parks, roads and sewers." washingtonpost, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/28/more-segregated-cities-spend-less-on-parks-roads-and-sewers-but-why/?utm_term=.84781a2ae059. 28 Oct., 2015. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Dolesh, Richard J. "Climate Change Is Changing the Face of Outdoor Recreation.” nrpa, https://www.nrpa.org/parks-recreation-magazine/2017/october/climate-change-is-changing-the-face-of-outdoor-recreation/ . Accessed 11 May, 2018.
"5 Ways U.S. Cities Are Paying for Parks." nextcity, 18 Oct., 2016.https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/fresh-ideas-for-funding-city-parks . Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Harnik, Peter and Abby Martin. "Public Space/ Private Money: The Triumphs and Pitfalls of Urban Park Conservancies." tpl, Feb., 2015. https://www.tpl.org/sites/default/files/files_upload/ccpe-Parks-Conservancy-Report.pdf. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Jim Hilborn. "Dealing With Crime and Disorder in Urban Parks." popcenter, http://www.popcenter.org/responses/PDFs/urban_parks.pdf. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Manley, Justin. "How Can We Build Safe Urban Parks?" theairspace, 30 May, 2013. http://theairspace.net/insight/how-can-we-build-safe-urban-parks/ . Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Mathew, Teresa. "Here's How Cities Can Get the Most out of Their Parks." citylab, 18 Oct., 2017. https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/10/improving-the-public-health-tool-in-our-backyards/543303/. 11 May, 2018.
Myerson, Deborah L. Parks, "People, and Places: Making Parks Accessible to the Community." ignitecda, http://www.ignitecda.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/ULI_Parks_People-Doc-to-post.pdf . Accessed 11 May, 2018.
picture credit: https://www.nhnature.org/visit/forest_trail.php
These articles provide information on various parks that are making cities more vibrant. They run the gambit in terms of their sizes. Some, such as Griffith Park (Los Angeles) and Central Park (New York), are huge while small shoehorn park fill little space but still provide ample greenery and places to relax.
"Central Park Conservancy." http://www.centralparknyc.org/. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
"Cleveland MetroParks." https://www.clevelandmetroparks.com/. Accessed11 May, 2018.
Friends of the Highline." http://www.highline.org . Accessed11 May, 2018.
"Griffith Park: Park Proud LA." https://www.laparks.org/griffithpark . Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Harnik, Peter. "Shoehorn Parks." cloud.tpl, May, 2009. http://cloud.tpl.org/pubs/ccpe_ShoehornParks_Article.pdf. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
"Prospect Park Alliance." https://www.prospectpark.org/ . Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Segall, Grant. "Cleveland Metroparks gain more land and visitors (photos)." cleveland, 15 March, 2018. http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2018/03/cleveland_metroparks_gain_more.html. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
“Urban Parks.” https://www.planetizen.com/tag/urban-parks. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Western Reserve Land Conservancy. https://www.wrlandconservancy.org/. Accessed 11 May, 2018.
Outline for the Assignment on Parks
This exam should be at least 850 words in length. Your writing should be concise but clear. Details are essential and examples are always welcomed. Don’t be shy about expressing your opinions. You should present a list of works cited that provides essential information about the sources you utilized in completing this assignment.
Some of the articles that were sent to you laud the potential of parks, outlining how they can benefit cities. Others, however, take a more skeptical stance as they note factors that might prevent parks from living up to their potential. In this first section, you should outline some of the major points these resources forward. Whenever possible, present divergent opinions, mixing praise for parks and their potential with more skeptical views about these matters.
In this section, you should answer the following questions. Do you think that the parks in your community are benefiting residents? What do you think could be done to upgrade these facilities, making them more responsive to residents needs? Is it realistic to think that your suggestions will be put into action? If not, why not?
picture credit: https://www.nhnature.org/visit/forest_trail.php
Model Paper for Assignment on Parks
As you realize, you should not copy this model paper when you complete this assignment. However, feel free to use it as a guide.
New York City’s Central Park probably has the greatest claim to fame of any urban open space in the United States. As a landmark it is every bit as symbolic of America’s largest city as is the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. Its lagoons and biking trails might be described as being both awe-inspiring and picturesque. And even parks that are less imposing in their expansiveness than is Central Park can astound visitors with their natural beauty.
Benefits of Parks
But parks have much more to offer a community than natural beauty. Among other things, they provide residents with places to exercise. Somebody who does nothing more than take a gentle stroll through a park – possibly, as they accompany a dog or a human companion - will greatly benefit themselves.
And the psychological benefits that parks offer are equally as impactful. Simply viewing nature, much less being its midst can prove healing. Writing in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine Howard Frumkin notes that: “The concept that plants have a role in mental health is well established. Horticultural therapy evolved as a form of mental health treatment, based on the therapeutic effects of gardening. It is also used today in community-based programs, geriatrics programs, prisons, developmental disabilities programs, and special education.”
Then, there is the fact that, as numerous studies have concluded, parks boost nearby residential property values. Other things being equal, most people are willing to pay more for a home that is close to a park (an amenity), a phenomenon that economists label “hedonic value.”
Challenges Parks Present
But not all urban green is created equally. And people’s desire to live near a park depends upon the characteristics of a particular park. Beautiful natural resource parks with great trees, trails, meadows, and gardens are decidedly valuable as are those which have excellent exercise facilities. However, distance might make the heart grow founder if noise becomes an issue, and parks with frightening or dangerous aspects might actually reduce nearby property values.
This latter point might seem obvious, as nobody wants to place themselves in harm’s way. But people generally remain unaware that because urban parks are difficult to police it might be hard to prevent them from deteriorating to the point that they are perceived in starkly negative terms.
Compared with streets and buildings, their boundaries are hard to define. In parks with naturalistic settings people often use vegetation as a cover for their misbehavior and surveillance cameras simply cannot cover an entire park.
Another consideration: Parks are generally not a top priority when cities must function within tight budgetary constraints. So, municipalities are often obliged to get creative when it comes to developing funding sources for them. They might have to establish concessions in parks or charge admissions to certain events, working to defray the cost of keeping them open.
Or, they might seek wealthy benefactors whose contributions can help ensure a park is well maintained. Any extreme example: The Central Park Conservancy covers 75% of Central Park's $67 million annual operating budget, remaining responsible for all aspects of that park’s maintenance, as well as capital improvements and restorations.
However, not everybody is comfortable with the idea of private funds supporting parks, maintaining that public spaces should be supported by public moneys (taxes). Some observers have even gone so far as to claim that this arrangement could jeopardize accessibility and accountability.
Then, there is the fact that not everybody enjoys equal access to urban parks and the benefits these facilities might send their way. Research conducted by the National Institute for Health concluded that poverty levels were negatively associated with distances to parks and green spaces in both urban and suburban areas. And it also found that neighborhoods which had disproportionate high percentages of African-Americans and Hispanics residents were located farther from parks and green spaces than were other communities.
picture credit: http://www.cainpark.com/170/Arts-Festival
Cleveland Heights Parks
Cleveland Heights where I live might have many impressive selling points: convenience, diversity, tree lined streets. However, its parks seemingly leave much to be desired. Sure, the gem of its park system – Cain Park, named for a former mayor – does have a full array of tennis courts, basketball courts and other sports facilities.
And many art shows and theatrical/ musical events are held within its acreage. However, it does not appear to have much in the way of greenery. Rather, as is the case with other Cleveland Heights parks, it is completely lacking in wooded areas.
It might be hard to remedy that scarcity as this point. You could not readily tear up the concrete that blankets Cain Park and plant trees. The price tag for such a project would be way out of budget and people who are accustomed to enjoying the park in its present state would not welcome these renovations. Rather, this facility seems to be set in place, being upgraded over the years but retaining its original character and design.
However, some of the smaller Cleveland Heights parks could be more easily given a face lift. Among other things, they could become the site of art shows sponsored by a local arts groups or a local school. Possibly, a show of this type might not draw a huge crowd, but over time it might attract considerable interest. And these art shows could be rotated becoming accessible to residents of various Cleveland Heights neighborhoods.