Supplement Feature - April 2008
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Room to Live

Outfitting Your Parks to Provide Space for All

By Emily Tipping


Specialized uses call for special amenities. Dog parks, skateparks, tennis courts, etc., all require different kinds of attention to detail.

To outfit your dog park, for example, you need to think about including places where the dogs' owners can socialize, and you also need to consider their four-legged friends' needs. That means specialized fencing, as well as special water fountains and maybe even dog waste stations.

In skateparks, you'll want to be sure your furnishings can stand up to abuse, because skaters are highly likely to "ride" your benches. Armrests can be one way to prevent this, but it might be easier to simply purchase site furnishings that are meant to stand up to this kind of heavy use. With the growing popularity of "street-style" skateparks—which imitate the environments skaters love, including downtown plazas with benches, steps and more—manufacturers are building the required durability into their furnishings up front.

Places where people will be very active, including tennis courts, basketball courts, playgrounds and so forth—think, anywhere people will break a sweat—also require special forethought. You'll certainly want to include water fountains. For playgrounds, you may want to consider dual-height water fountains so the kiddies can reach more easily. A place to sit and rest between games is also important in these locations, as is a way to get out of the hot, skin-damaging rays of the sun.

Here are some of the important things to take into account for these special areas:

  • Specialized waste receptacles, whether that means a dog-waste receptacle that includes baggies for those who forget to bring their own, or extra-tough receptacles for your skatepark that can withstand the onslaught of hard knocks from flying boards.
  • Water fountains designed so active users—grownups, kids, the disabled and possibly pets, too—can get a drink.
  • Fencing, whether to allow for an off-leash play area for pups or to protect non-skaters and spectators at tennis courts from flying boards and balls.
  • Accessibility for the disabled, including special playground designs, paths that are accessible to wheelchairs, picnic tables and so forth.
  • Signage announcing the rules and etiquette, as well as schedules. You might also want to include a bulletin board so people can post things like dog obedience school schedules, tennis lessons or tournament information.
  • Lighting for nighttime use and safety.
  • Benches and tables.
  • Shelters and shade.