Guest Column - January 2005
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Sustainable Parks

Park Planning and Design

By Andrew R. Lavallee, ASLA, RLA, CSI

IMP results

The IMP process produced what, to some, were startling numbers: an annual maintenance and operations budget of $15.4 million per year. Approximately 63 percent was for operating expenditures, while 37 percent was for capital maintenance expenditures. Projected out over the anticipated 50-year life cycle of the park, the maintenance and operations budget represented approximately $770 million, or nearly six times the current $130 million construction budget.

In the end, the projected maintenance was greater than anticipated. However, because of the unique multivariate projective model developed in the IMP process, maintenance planning could be evaluated on a variable by variable basis. This provided the potential for the program to be manipulated in order to arrive at an affordable, sustainable budget.

The IMP process and the planning model developed in that process led to several important outcomes. A consensus was developed between the park staff and the designers about the envisioned standard of care for the park that was commensurate with the overall park vision and anticipated visitation levels. The maintenance and operations budget was premised on proactive, preventative maintenance rather than reactive, as-needed maintenance, which will ultimately be a less expensive proposition for the park. And, finally, realistic unit costs were developed for the park landscape and program that can be applied to the design as it progresses.

In short, IMP can provided a critical snapshot of the anticipated cost to maintain and operate the park over its projected useful life, allowing the park designers, economic planners, managers and funding agencies to come to terms with what is possible to achieve of the concept plan. Decisions as simple as whether to pave walkways with granite or asphalt or whether to include a pool or not can be quickly tested on an operational and capital maintenance cost basis. In this way, decision-makers will be able to gauge not only the initial affordability of the park, but also its economic sustainability over its life cycle-setting the course for a truly sustainable park for future generations.

Andrew Lavallee is a senior associate with Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, PC in New York City. He can be reached at For more information about Brooklyn Bridge Park, visit the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation at