• Who We Are

    City Parks Blog is a joint effort of the Center for City Park Excellence at the Trust for Public Land and the City Parks Alliance to chronicle the news and issues of the urban park movement. Read more about us.
  • Urban Park Issues

  • Enter your email address to receive notifications of new City Parks Blog posts by email.

  • Archives

  • Urban Green Cover Ad

Stormwater in Parks: Is There Reason to Worry?

The following is an excerpt from City Parks, Clean Water, a report by the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence that examines the role of urban parks in managing stormwater. This is the fourteenth installment in a series of 19 posts.

When a park is doing double duty as both a recreation space and water management area, certain citizen concerns may come to light. Worries regarding standing water, salt or chemical residues in runoff, and previous site contamination are all valid, and certain precautions must be taken to prevent any health impacts. Continue reading

Maintaining Water-Smart Parks

The following is an excerpt from City Parks, Clean Water, a report by the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence that examines the role of urban parks in managing stormwater. This is the thirteenth installment in a series of 19 posts.

Finding space isn’t the only difficulty in designing water-smart parks. Green infrastructure needs to be kept green in order to function properly and to remain attractive. Swales, rain gardens, and detention ponds are critical components for stormwater management. Long-term aesthetics may take a back seat, especially for wastewater utility staff focused primarily on regulatory compliance, but many such landscape components that are beautiful in initial design renderings will over time start to look mangy. To keep these park areas attractive, experts must choose plants carefully and support good maintenance. Smart planting design (choosing a mix of woody, evergreen, and perennial plants, for example) and rigorous attention and maintenance—especially in the first few years—are important to the success of a water-smart park.

Buffalo BAyou flooding - cred Melissa Phillip, Houston Chronicle

Buffalo Bayou in Houston is designed to flood – and the parks department is prepared for that. (Melissa Phillip, Houston Chronicle)

And what about maintaining the rest of a park’s green infrastructure? Continue reading

Making Room: Finding the Space in Urban Parks for Stormwater Management

The following is an excerpt from City Parks, Clean Water, a report by the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence that examines the role of urban parks in managing stormwater. This is the twelfth installment in a series of 19 posts.

In all considerations of urban stormwater management, space is a factor. A prime difficulty with liberating a stream from a fortified channel is that it then requires a wider footprint – but over the years that historic floodplain has usually been covered with housing, shops or industry. Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority Landscape Architect Brian Baldauf has calculated that the present 50- to 100-foot-wide riparian corridor of the Los Angeles River and its tributaries (including Tujunga Wash) would need to be five to seven times wider to be naturally resilient against flooding. The problem is more severe in arid regions with their wider fluctuations between droughts and deluges, but the challenge reaches from coast to coast. In the Charlotte, North Carolina area, which has seen rapid recent development (including a widespread increase in new pavement) and higher water levels, Mecklenburg County has an aggressive program to buy out willing sellers in the flood zone, remove built structures, and turn the land into open space (often resulting in the construction of a natural greenway to be maintained by the parks department).  Austin and El Paso similarly have created broad swaths of parkland from former residential neighborhoods decimated by floods.

Saipan

Saipan-Ledo Park in El Paso, TX was created when low-lying homes were destroyed in a flood. (El Paso Water Utility)

Continue reading

Pervious Pavement: One Way to Make Parks more Water-Smart

The following is an excerpt from City Parks, Clean Water, a report by the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence that examines the role of urban parks in managing stormwater. This is the eleventh installment in a series of 19 posts.

A widely suggested solution for managing runoff is to use pervious (or permeable) pavement. Permeable pavements are engineered surfaces designed to function like standard construction materials while still allowing stormwater to pass into the ground. Materials can include asphalt, concrete, and spaced paver blocks. In urban parks, pervious pavement can make a difference in the form of anything from walkways to basketball courts. In theory, replacing all the asphalt and concrete in the United States with pervious forms would make a huge dent in the runoff problem. The reality, however, is more complex.

Pervious Pavement Demo - City of Columbus

Pervious pavement comes in many forms. In this example, specially designed pavers allow runoff to pass through, into the soil below where it can be filtered and absorbed. (City of Columbus)

Continue reading

Soil, Stormwater, and City Parks

The following is an excerpt from City Parks, Clean Water, a report by the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence that examines the role of urban parks in managing stormwater. This is the tenth installment in a series of 19 posts.

Across the country, and across all sizes and shapes of parks, there are a few key elements to getting green infrastructure right. Some of them begin in the site survey and design process. These considerations include getting the soil right, creating or ensuring that there is enough space for the planned improvements, and the maintenance of green infrastructure, which can have both pros and cons when compared to traditional “gray” infrastructure. In this week’s post, we will discuss ways in which soils can be modified to improve the water management qualities of a park.

209725260_b90086cba6_b

Pounding feet compacts the soil in parks, often preventing it from performing properly. Amended or otherwise modifed soils can ensure proper filtration and drainage. (Flickr user Humanoide)

Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 292 other followers