Build A Park That Engages Your Community
The best parks provide a place where everyone can get engaged, whether it's in exercise and activity, play or sport, or just enjoying a picnic and gazing at a beautiful view. There are so many options for outfitting a park site, it can be difficult to determine the best options for your community. Getting it right takes open dialogue, community study, community involvement, the right design and research partners and best practices. With all these pieces in place, you can work together to build a park that will build your community.
Q: We want to create a park where the whole community can gather to be active. What should we consider?
A: There are so many elements that can engage your community in activity—playgrounds for children, spray parks, sports fields with spectator seating for people of all ages, bike storage and repair stations for cyclists, dog parks for people with pets. By combining the right elements in the right design, you'll create a space where people of all ages and walks of life can come together to move and improve their physical, mental and social well-being.
In addition to active areas, you'll want to include things like picnic areas and seating for individuals and families, along with fountains and aquatic elements for people to enjoy. You want to create an oasis—a haven for the community to gather, be active and enjoy beauty.
Q: What are some ways to encourage activity in and around the playground for teens, adults and seniors?
A: A playground will get kids active, but what about the teens and adults who accompany them to the park? You can find a wide variety of fitness options for active adults of all ages and abilities. Fitness equipment can be installed near a playground, so caregivers can keep an eye on their charges. Be sure to think about providing a well-rounded workout. These spaces typically have enough room for six to 15 pieces, so select a mix that develops aerobic, core and muscle fitness, as well as balance and flexibility.
For kids who are just a bit too old for the playground, you might consider a climbing wall or a fitness-focused obstacle course. These types of amenities are attractive to teens and make exercise more fun.
In addition, remember that many teens and others get around via bicycle, so be sure there are places to store bikes, as well as paths designed for bike traffic.
Be sure to also include benches and shade near playgrounds, so people have a spot to rest.
Q: What about our park patrons with dogs? We'd love to give them a place to go, but we're concerned about safety.
A: Dog parks continue to be in high demand across the country. They provide a place where dogs and their owners can get active and socialize—crucial to community-building. You can find plenty of resources that will help you plan your dog park, including how to build community support, as well as how to design and program the space.
Again, in this area you want to include a range of amenities, including pet waste stations, fencing, seating areas, access to water fountains and maybe even some agility equipment.
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