Supplement Feature - April 2010
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Visual Upgrades

Turn Basic Site Furnishings Into Recreational Enhancements

By Kelli Anderson

troll through your neighborhood park one day and you might find that a standard trash bin is a little more colorful, park benches are more purposefully placed along walking paths and picnic tables have turned an otherwise average daily hike into an entertaining event.

This, according to recreation experts, is what more park districts are beginning to do to enhance the beauty of their sites—taking conventional site amenities and turning them into multipurpose furnishings or even works of art.

With the right forethought and creative planning, a site's conventional furnishings can perform double duty and beyond. If you want to add pop to your site, encourage more social interaction or boost revenue, then consider engaging some unique ways to accomplish those goals—without breaking the bank.

Art & Color

Perhaps the most obvious way that site furnishings can enhance the recreational experience is through color. Adding color—beyond the basic institutional palettes of brown and beige—to chairs, tables, trash bins, etc., can enhance a park's look.

"Bright colors pop. They attract people," said Olympia Williams, an analyst in recreation and community services in San Jose, Calif. "Don't be afraid to do that kind of thing. Trash receptacles, for example, are a nice place to add art in the park. Kids can decorate them with tile. It engages them, creates ownership. It's a great place to display art and color."

The Pilgrim Bark Park in historic Provincetown, Mass.—home of the oldest artist colony in the county and current contender as Dog Fancy magazine's best dog park of 2010—turned to its residential artists and dog enthusiasts for inspiration. Local talent has inspired the dog park's site furnishings—everything from seating to signage—to reflect the nautical heritage of the community.

"We called upon artists to design and create, to reflect our heritage of art, whaling and fishing," said Candace Nagle, president and co-founder of Pilgrim Bark Park. "They created our signature bench, a replica of the Mayflower on which two dogs came over to Provincetown. A kiosk is being created at the moment to look like a bottle in the ocean (a sort of trompe l'oie effect) to advertise all our classes and events. It can't just be cookie cutter—it has to reflect our heritage."