Posted on November 27, 2013 by Angelina Horn
Each month, City Parks Alliance recognizes a “Frontline Park” to promote and highlight inspiring examples of urban park excellence, innovation, and stewardship across the country. The program also seeks to highlight examples of the challenges facing our cities’ parks as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures, and urban neighborhood decay.
St. Louis, MO
Forest Park, which opened in 1876, is a sprawling green space in the heart of St. Louis. At 1,371 acres, it is one of the largest urban parks in the country, and more than 13 million visitors per year come to the park to play sports, ride bikes, run, fish, practice archery, or to attend one of the many special events the park hosts, such as the Great Forest Park Balloon Race. With so many people using the park, traffic quickly became a big concern for the organizations tasked with maintaining and running the park. Read more »
Filed under: planning, transportation | Tagged: cars in parks, Forest Park, parking, st. louis, transportation | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 21, 2013 by Kathy Blaha
This year the City Parks Alliance was one of the hosts to the International Downtown Association’s World Congress in New York. The theme, “People/Places/Partnerships,” focused on how leaders across the globe are transforming buildings, places and streets through design, redevelopment, place management and distinctive programming. City Parks Alliance added a focus on downtown parks by organizing tours.
I’ve talked about downtown associations before – and business improvement districts (BIDs) – and their increasing willingness to take on parks to help enliven and beautify downtowns. BIDs exist in almost every one of the top 50 largest cities in the United States. BIDs, mostly financed by taxes on property owners in a given district, are increasingly including public spaces and parks in their mission.
Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) is no different. It has been in existence since 1953 and in the late 1990s, the leadership formed a BID to help them carry out their mission. With six hundred residential and business members they include parks in their mission. “We care about the parks because our policy and advocacy agenda focuses on the health and vitality of public spaces – parks, plazas and sidewalks,” says Jon Scholes, DSA’s Vice President for Advocacy and Economic Development. Read more »
Filed under: maintenance/management, partnerships, programming | Tagged: BIDs, Kathy Blaha, public-private partnerships, seattle | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 20, 2013 by Angelina Horn
Contributed by Kevin Rossignol
America’s playgrounds have undergone a transformation over the past few decades. The once tall and sprawling wood and steel structures have been slowly replaced in favor of playgrounds that put safety, rather than enjoyment, above all else. If you venture out to a park with a newly built playground, what you’ll find is a multi-colored configuration lined with a soft rubber padding that seems slightly out of place amongst the grass and trees. The iconic playground structures adults remember growing up with, such as see-saws, jungle gyms and tall slides, will almost certainly seem smaller and modified, if they are present at all.
These newer playgrounds represent a fundamental change in the way play infrastructure is designed. In decades past, playground designers focused on providing structures and activities that posed a challenge to kids. Jungle gyms, monkey bars and tarzan ropes provided children with thrills, such as tall heights and fast speeds, while simultaneously aiding with essential developmental skills, like risk assessment and spatial judgment. Though older playgrounds may trigger nostalgic memories from a seemingly bygone era, the enjoyment they provided came with risks.
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Filed under: crime & safety, health | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 13, 2013 by Angelina Horn
Voters in Newark, Cleveland and Grand Rapids have overwhelmingly approved local taxes to pay for better parks in their cities, The Trust for Public Land announced.
On November 5th:
- Newark, N.J., voters gave 84% approval to create the Newark Open Space & Recreation Trust Fund, which would receive about $1.1 million a year to maintain city parks and provide new parks. The money would come from a tax of one penny per $100 of real property value.
- In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, voters in Cleveland and nearby communities gave 70% passage to a measure that increases the local levy used to pay for a variety of parks in the county. The measure will bring in about $75 million a year over the next 20 years.
- In Michigan, Grand Rapids voters passed by a 60–40 margin a park levy which will create $28 million over the next seven years.
The three successful city measures were among 15 local conservation spending proposals on the ballot. Twelve of the 15 passed, and will generate $1.8 billion for local conservation over the next two decades. The only major loss came in Boise, Idaho, where voters gave 62–38% support for a conservation tax, but that figure fell just short of the 2/3 approval required.
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Filed under: funding | Tagged: ballot measures, cleveland, Grand Rapids, portland | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 4, 2013 by Kathy Blaha
Almost every city in America has a public-private partnership around one or more of its parks. Everyone is doing it, and everyone is asking the same questions about the best way to develop and manage them. It is a tough topic to wrap your head around since every partnership is a slightly different riff on the one they learned from. But the key question appears to be, what does the right agreement look like that keeps public space public?
Seattle is taking a big picture view of where and how they want to use partnerships and working hard on finding the best way to keep public space for the public. “Our approach is going to look different in different parts of the city,” says Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent for Seattle Parks and Recreation. “For example, in the downtown core Friends of the Central Waterfront are working with us in a guiding position for how the waterfront gets redeveloped.”
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Filed under: funding, partnerships, planning, renewal | Tagged: Kathy Blaha, public-private partnerships, seattle | Leave a Comment »