How do cities create more in-demand playing fields if they are all built out? Jared Blumenfeld, the new general manager of San Francisco Recreation and Parks just penned a piece for the San Francisco Chronicle that explains a couple things that his city is doing:
First, we’ve increased play capacity by installing synthetic turf and lights at high-use athletic fields. Depending on a field’s condition, these renovations can triple the amount of play on an athletic field. We’ve also been able to add entire fields by redesigning the layout at multifield parks. By increasing use at these select parks, we simultaneously reduce demand at other parks and allow grass fields more time for rest and re-growth.
Second, Recreation and Parks reorganized the way it issues permits. All requests are now made online. The time set aside for youth use has been expanded. Fields are allocated in advance at the beginning of the season. Every team knows who is using what field at what time each day. We’ve also established procedures to ensure that kids who live in the city get field access, and that youth leagues and programs are low-cost and primarily run by volunteers.
To make sure residents can still use their local fields for a pick-up game, open play time has been set aside at the busiest parks and signs are being installed to make sure people know when the fields are available for walk-on play.
Blumenfeld also notes that uncared for fields can be unusable fields. Although the piece doesn’t mention it, the Center for City Park Excellence is also looking at this same issue, more in terms of how to create more parkland. Possible areas include capping reservoirs, upgrading schoolyards, building rooftop parks and more. We hope to post in more depth on these issues in the future.