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Feature Article - April 2006

Special Supplement: A Complete Guide to Site Furnishings & Park Components

Planning the right park components

By Stacy St. Clair



It's a shame, the things we do to innocent site furnishings.

Install a picnic table there. Slap a fountain over here. Put in a few benches and—voilą!—you've got yourself a perfectly furnished park, right?

Wrong.

To get the maximum value from your park furnishings, you have to invest a lot of forethought. You must think about each piece and its value to both the facility's goals and its aesthetics.

You should anticipate your patrons' needs, deciding which elements must be shaded and which can accommodate those with disabilities. All this must be done before you can begin thinking about selecting materials, maintaining them and preventing them from becoming vandalism targets.

Recreation managers who pay little heed to the importance of site furnishings find themselves paying a lot more in the long run. Without the proper elements, parks may never live up to their full potential.

"Some parks don't give a lot of thought to site furnishings," says Kathy Madden, senior vice president for the New York-based Project for Public Spaces (PPS). "Often people just put them in, and they're not used."

Fortunately, the furnishing industry and landscape architects have made selecting park elements as simple as decorating your own home. With a little information and a lot of attention to detail, your park can be fabulously furnished in no time.